There are ten root causes of fatigue that I look for in my practice. Although diagnosing the cause of fatigue can be challenging, it’s a wonderful feeling to help give someone their life back by identifying and remediating fatigue issues.
In this article and 10 Causes of Fatigue – part two, I’ll give you a brief overview of some of the triggers of fatigue I look for, in no particular order.
In 10 Causes of Fatigue – Part 1, we’ll cover:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Detoxification challenges
- Low-functioning thyroid gland
In 10 Causes of Fatigue – Part 2, we’ll cover:
- Chronic infections
- Sleep apnea or insomnia
- Adrenal gland issues
- Low white blood cell count
- Epstein-Barr (mono)
Possible Causes Of Fatigue
1 – Nutritional Deficiencies
Nutritional deficiencies can definitely cause fatigue. A shortage of even one critical nutrient can be enough, and figuring out these fatigue issues can be challenging. Blood testing can help, but often a discussion of dietary habits provides the initial clue. High sugar, fast food or processed food consumption is always a red flag for this type of fatigue-related issue.
2 – Detoxification Challenges
Toxin buildup can be caused by excessive exposure, as in exposure to mold or work-related toxins, but it can also result from genetic issues. Even if you have a genetic predisposition to challenges with the elimination of toxins, supporting your body with certain nutrients can make a big difference. We do genetic testing in our practice so that these detoxification issues can be identified and resolved.
3 – Anemia
Anemia is a deficiency of red blood cells, or the hemoglobin in red blood cells. This causes your cells to not get enough oxygen and results in weariness and fatigue. While anemia can be hereditary, it’s often caused by iron deficiency. Blood loss (from menstruation, ulcers, and other medical issues) can also trigger it. Vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamin B12 and folate, can be the trigger for anemia – this is definitely a suspect in patients with the genetic condition known as MTHFR.
4 – Low-functioning Thyroid Gland
Hypothyroidism can definitely cause fatigue, so checking thyroid hormone levels would be a first step in diagnosing long-term fatigue. Blood tests allow measurement of the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and other thyroid hormones. Treatment with hormone replacement and even dietary changes can help once the condition is identified.
5 – Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can be a cause of fatigue. Along with thyroid and iron levels to indicate anemia, this is one of the first three things your doctor is likely to test for in diagnosing fatigue. There are a large number of possible causes of hypoglycemia, so treatments may vary from dietary and lifestyle changes to medications.
Diagnosing The Cause Of Fatigue
As you may have figured out by this point in the article, diagnosing the causes of fatigue (or chronic fatigue) can be (forgive the pun) an exhausting process! Many doctors simply don’t have the patience to get to the root causes of fatigue, which leaves many men and (more commonly) women experiencing a struggle to simply get through their daily routine.
Fatigue can steal away your joy of life, as well as having severe mental and physical health consequences… Fatigue can be a sign of a deeper health issue too, so it’s never good to ignore it – and of course, fatigue steals away happy family and lifetime experiences you’ll never get back, as well as causing you to miss opportunities for financial advancement at work.
All of these are reasons why in my medical practice I work hard to identify and resolve the underlying causes of fatigue. We’ll discuss five more in part two of this article.