Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor

I’m so tired during the day that it’s hard to complete even my most routine tasks. I’ve been going to bed earlier and earlier, but I still feel exhausted.
Could I have a sleep disorder?

Your symptoms could be the result of a myriad of ailments, the most common being lack of sleep, stress and illness. A sudden, unusual onset of fatigue is also the chief indicator of a heart attack among women. However, if your symptoms appear gradually and persist even after you take steps to improve your quality of sleep, you should start looking at other variables that may be contributing to your exhaustion.

Sleep Apnea. An estimated 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and the majority of sufferers don’t even know it. If, in addition to your daytime sleepiness, you endure nighttime heartburn or chest pain, chronic headaches, or swelling of your lower limbs you may suffer from sleep apnea. If you share sleeping quarters with anyone, ask if they notice you snoring, constantly tossing and turning or that you gasp for breath or choke during the night. If you do suffer from sleep apnea, your doctor might suggest lifestyle changes or a CPAP or oral appliances as treatment.

Diet Insufficiencies or Allergies. A poor diet might also be the culprit behind your chronic fatigue. Most of your daily calories should come from whole grains, lean protein and high fiber fruits and vegetables. Filling up on simple carbohydrates, like white bread and sweets, won’t fuel your body efficiently and the short burst of energy you feel after eating will fade quickly. Also, make sure you’re not overdoing it on the caffeine and that you’re staying hydrated.

Mild food allergies might also be at fault. If you suspect this might be the case, systematically phase out one or two foods you regularly eat and see if your energy improves.

Anemia or Diabetes. Anemia, a condition in which the body lacks blood cells or hemoglobin, is the leading cause of fatigue among women. If you also experience low body temperature, weakness, rapid or irregular heartbeat or shortness of breath, your fatigue could be a symptom of anemia.

If you also notice increased hunger, unexplained weight loss or frequent urination, diabetes, could also be the cause of your chronic fatigue. If left untreated, diabetes can cause serious complications, so consult your physician immediately f you think you’re at risk.

Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone, which regulates your metabolism. In addition to fatigue, other symptoms include trembling of the hands, irregular heartbeat, weight loss, and heat intolerance.

Chronic Fatigue. If none of the above conditions apply, you may be suffering from Chronic Fatigue syndrome. Even though the theories regarding the causes of CFS are varied, there are several treatments and lifestyle changes that have provided suffers with relief. Some of these include: cognitive behavior therapy, treatment of depression, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and allergy and low blood pressure medication. Chronic fatigue syndrome resources

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