Fix Your Fatigue

Sleepy and tired business woman on laptop, holding a coffee

Do you live a healthy lifestyle but still feel tired much of the time?

Perhaps you’ve just had your annual checkup.

History taken, physical exam performed, routine blood work done.

. . . but your doctor says, “everything checks out, you’re fine”.

Unfortunately, most of the women I see in my clinic, and those I consult with on Skype, feel that their concerns with low energy were dismissed by their doctor.

It’s frustrating to feel exhausted and weary. Like your gas tank is on EMPTY and no matter what you do, you can’t get the needle to point to FULL. Beyond frustrating when you have so much you HAVE to do. Like taking care of your family, keeping your house in order and being productive in your job. It would be a bonus if you had enough energy leftover to play a round of golf or enjoy a hike with a friend.

I know you’re tired of being tired. Don’t you dare give up.

Read on. I have a solution to offer that you may not have considered.

You will learn:

  • Drowsiness and feeling sleepy are different than Fatigue.
  • Fatigue is a symptom, not a Disease and there are hundreds of potential causes.
  • The causes may be metabolic, energetic, mental/emotional, or Lifestyle. (most often it’s a combination)
  • How a Functional Medical evaluation can determine your root-causes which will lead you to create effective solutions

Fatigue is More than being a little Sleepy

You’ve likely had a couple of nights where you just didn’t get enough quality sleep. It Happens. So you find yourself wanting to take a nap around 3 pm. A few night’s of good sleep and you’re back to feeling like your vital self. But fatigue is different. Like your bones have become old and weary. You’re out of energy, feel exhausted and lethargic. When you are fatigued, you have no motivation. Being sleepy may be a symptom of fatigue, but it’s not the same thing.

Hundreds of Medical Conditions can cause Fatigue

I believe the main reason doctors are confounded by Fatigue is that there are so many potential etiologies. Recently I came across an article on healthline.com. The author listed 251 possible conditions that could cause fatigue. (some quite rare, and I’m aware of more that weren’t even listed). Regarding the women I work with, there are almost always more than one contributing factor. Sometimes one cause can be determined as the primary one. If that is the case, then (effective) treatment, aimed at correcting that cause, can make the patient feel dramatically better. They will regain their feelings of vitality and energy. But not so if there are multiple issues involved. Such was the case for Maria.

Maria Fixed her Adrenal Issues but was still Tired

By the time Maria called me, she had seen her GP, gynecologist and a nutritionist. The two doctors had nothing to offer, but at least they had ruled out anything SERIOUS. She was hopeful that the nutritionist was on to something. Adrenal Fatigue was the diagnosis. Five months into the treatment program and Maria was feeling about 25% better. She was grateful, but disappointed. I’m so glad she remained unsatisfied and kept seeking a better solution!

Solving Fatigue most often requires serious investigative work. Just to give you a peek into the mind of a “Medical Detective”, I’ll mention just a few of the potential causes of Fatigue that a Functional Medicine practitioner may consider.

Have you ever considered that an Energetic “blockage” might be a cause?

As far as I’m concerned, “energy medicine”, also referred to as bioenergetic medicine, is the one of the most powerful healing modalities available. Acupuncture, Meridian Therapy, Reiki, Shiatsu, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Healing Touch offer many health benefits that are validated by the scientific research.  I’m definitely biased, why wouldn’t I be? Everyday in my clinic, I get to witness patients return to lives of vitality. I highly recommend you receive some form of energy work and see for yourself. Ask a friend for a referral to someone they trust.

Metabolic causes causes can be related to nutrient deficiencies, digestive disorders, poor detoxification, side effects of medications, blood glucose imbalances and so many more. Emotional causes include stress, depression, worry and anxiety.  Poor Lifestyle habits such as not getting enough sleep, lack of exercise, overwork, eating junk food and smoking can contribute to fatigue. It’s rare that one thing is causing your fatigue, as you’ll see in Maria’s case.

Maria also had a Thyroid Disorder

Maria’s nutritionist was correct in identifying and addressing Adrenal Dysfunction. (Dysfunction, not Fatigue, is the accurate way to describe what is wrong with the Adrenals in the response to chronic stress).  However, Maria had what doctors call comorbidity. Comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two, or more, conditions or diseases. The adrenals and thyroid interact in an intricate dance. Imbalances in both glands are not uncommon.

One of the hallmark symptoms of a sluggish thyroid is fatigue.

I obtained a thorough history, followed by comprehensive blood testing, which revealed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I work closely with a top-notch, open-minded endocrinologist. We recommended that Maria begin with my nutrition and Lifestyle program. After six weeks her labs were repeated to see if the protocol was beginning to work. Nutritional and lifestyle strategies typically take time to work. So in the meantime Maria received acupuncture. After only two treatments she no longer felt like taking a nap in the afternoons.

So What’s Your Next Step?

Think about the 3 types of causes. Give some consideration to what are your main causes of fatigue. You DO know yourself better than any doctor! If your cause is primarily your physiology, a qualified practitioner will help you hone in on which systems of the body to assess.

Lifestyle. Are you doing your best to eat fresh, real food?  Moving your body? Soaking up some sunshine?  How about getting good night of quality sleep?

Mental/Emotional. Are you doing your best to cope with life’s typical stressors? Staying connected with friends, family and God? Creating a little down time each day?

Energetic or Metabolic

Okay, if you answered “Yes” to the above 2 questions, then the cause of your fatigue is likely something going on with your “energetic” systems (as in “blockage” of Qi) or metabolic pathways. So, in that case, you could definitely benefit by contacting a practitioner who specializes in Functional Medicine. A “Medical Detective”.

Bonus: If you are fortunate enough to find someone who incorporates both Functional Medicine and Acupuncture in their practice consider a consultation with them. Not all functional medicine practitioners are trained in acupuncture and not all acupuncturists are versed in functional diagnostic medicine and nutrition. That’s okay. Just listen to your body and your intuition. Then decide which type of practitioner to start with. Given that Fatigue usually has energetic AND metabolic causes, you will likely require a combination of both treatment approaches.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27543008 Fatigue is associated with excess mortality in the general population: results from the EPIC-Norfolk study

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