Fatigue describes a lingering feeling of tiredness that won’t go away with a good sleep. Energy levels naturally go up and down at different times in our lives, but if your overwhelming sense of fatigue won’t go away, there may be a reason. It’s not normal to be so tired you can feel it in your bones. You shouldn’t be struggling to pry your eyes open in the morning or so exhausted that you lack the energy to do all the things you love. If this resonates, it’s time to do something about it.
Sometimes fatigue can be traced back to lifestyle factors, like your diet, exercise routine, or sleep patterns. Other times, it can be attributed to medical issues, such as autoimmune disease, thyroid conditions, hormonal imbalances, or chronic pain and inflammation.
That’s why it’s so important to see a functional medicine doctor about this issue. They will take a holistic approach in diagnosing the root cause so they can help you find and treat the trigger. Once you’ve identified what’s causing your symptoms, you can start getting your energy back.
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Lifestyle Factors That Can Cause Fatigue
Our bodies are very responsive to both internal and external stimuli. That’s why, when we’re looking for root causes of fatigue, we start by getting to know you and learning about your lifestyle.
Here are some common lifestyle factors that can contribute to fatigue:
Poor Quality Sleep
This is at the top of the list for obvious reasons. Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep every night. However, if you have a solid sleep routine and you’re still waking up feeling tired, there could be an explanation. It’s estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a condition in which people stop breathing during the night. It puts the body under a lot of stress and prevents you from getting the rest you need. In addition to sleep apnea, there are many other reasons you may not be getting restful, restorative sleep. A lack of quality sleep is one of the contributing factors that increases inflammation in the body. If you’re not prioritizing this, it’s time to start!
Working harder than normal can take a toll while your body. Your thyroid gland is what speeds up and slows down your bodily systems to allow it to respond to high energy situations, whether that’s working on a building site or starting a new gym routine. It’s possible that your body may just need some time to adjust, but if this persists, your doctor will take a look at your thyroid.
Lack of Movement
At the other end of the spectrum, a lack of physical activity can also cause fatigue. It may sound surprising – isn’t exercise what makes you tired? The truth is that exercise stimulates all kinds of positive reactions that will flood your body with natural feel-good chemicals. These will boost your mood, wake your body up, and ensure all systems are firing so you can feel your best.
Emotions and Stress
Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. If you’re feeling very stressed about something that’s happening in your life, or experiencing heightened emotions while processing something like grief, it will take a toll on your physical health. Even periods of boredom can lower your energy. That’s why it’s so important to ensure you see a functional medicine doctor, because they take a holistic view that includes mental health factors in getting to the bottom of what’s troubling you.
Poor Dietary Choices
The final thing we’re going to discuss here is your diet. If you’re fatigued, it’s tempting to reach for high-calorie foods like candy bars of processed carbohydrates because they provide a short burst of energy. However, this is a very short-term approach, because that short burst of energy is always followed by a crash. Often, this will make you feel even worse than you did in the first place.
That’s why it’s important that you eat a balanced diet full of the whole foods that are right for you and that you drink plenty of water. This will give your body the nutrients it needs to thrive. Everyone is different, so even though you may think you are eating healthily, some foods may actually be causing inflammation in your body. That can contribute to the fatigue you’re experiencing.
Want to learn more? Watch our on-demand webinar on thyroid conditions.
Medical Issues That Can Cause Fatigue
One we’ve discussed your lifestyle factors we’ll turn our attention to medical issues. Your doctor will take a detailed history and conduct a thorough physical exam as well as ordering any necessary tests such as bloodwork. This ensures we find the real issue instead of just applying a band-aid solution.
Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the immune system mistakenly starts attacking healthy cells. This consumes a huge amount of energy and can be absolutely exhausting. If you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and you’ve tried a traditional treatment approach, you’ll very likely have been prescribed medication to suppress your immune system and mask the symptoms. However, as you probably already know, this can lead to a range of other issues. Functional medicine will help you identify the triggers and start reversing the autoimmunity.
Inflammation and Chronic Pain
Chronic pain refers to severe discomfort that lasts longer than a normal period of healing. Most times, it arises after an illness or injury, but sometimes it can occur without any obvious explanation. If this occurs, your body is acting as if it’s still sick or injured, which puts it into a type of survival mode that will drain your natural energy reserves. This could include symptoms like back pain, headaches, digestive issues, and more. Your functional medicine doctor will help you learn what’s going on inside your body so you’ll be able to take steps towards regaining your health.
Hormones are the chemicals that tell your organs what to do so your body can function as it should. However, if your body starts producing too much or too little of any particular hormone, it can seriously impact your quality of life – like the thyroid hormones we touched on earlier. Hormones regulate everything from appetite to temperature, sleep, energy, fertility, mood, and more. These often fly under the radar, but they can explain a lot of seemingly unrelated symptoms. The good news is that they are highly treatable with help from a functional medicine doctor.
If you regularly take prescription medications, it’s possible that you are experiencing fatigue as a side effect. Functional medicine doctors take a different approach to medication than traditional doctors in that they favor natural solutions and only prescribe drugs when they are absolutely necessary. They will help you restore your health and well-being to a point where your body starts operating as it should so you don’t have to take medications for the rest of your life. It’s important to bring all your medications to your first consultation so your doctor can see what you’re taking, what impact each drug is having on your body, and whether any of them are interacting with each other.
When to Take Action About Fatigue
Your health is your greatest asset. If you’re worried about fatigue, it’s time to see your functional medicine doctor. Everyone experiences fatigue differently, so to answer the question at the top of this blog – how tired is too tired? – it’s up to each individual to answer for themselves.
Fatigue isn’t just tiredness. It can have a number of harmful flow-on effects, such as low mood, increased recklessness, poor work quality, lack of motivation to exercise, lack of self-control around high-calorie foods, and more. Research has revealed that driving while fatigued is similar to driving under the influence of alcohol because exhaustion can severely impact your responsiveness and decision-making. The consequences are even more severe if you fall asleep behind the wheel.
If you’re constantly feeling a deep sense of tiredness and you don’t know why, the most important thing to take away from this blog is that this isn’t normal and you don’t have to live like this forever. Dr. Radawi and the team at Tri-Cities Functional Medicine can help you identify the underlying issues so you can understand what’s happening and why. They will also provide you with the education you need to start taking control of your health and feeling your best once again.
Ready to take the first step? Our team is waiting for your call.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout Tennessee and into Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Kentucky. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, Abingdon, VA, Grundy, VA, Asheville, NC, Boone, NC.