Fatigue: Causes and Treatment

Fatigue is a very common problem which can have many causes, ranging from the common and benign, to the rare and serious. A few simple lifestyle factors are often responsible for a lot of fatigue present in our society.

Common Fatigue Causes

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule (8-9 hours per night), eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise1 are the most basic factors in maintaining good energy. An imbalance in one or more of these simple factors are the cause of the majority of fatigue and should not be overlooked. When these basic lifestyle factors are in place and yet we are still tired there is more that needs to be looked into.

Common causes of fatigue include iron deficiency anemia, B12 deficiency2, side effects of drugs3, asthma, hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue and mono, among others.

Iron deficiency anemia and B12 deficiency are very common nutrient deficiencies which are easily corrected with diet changes and supplementation in many, but not all cases. Cases with chronic excessive blood loss need to be diagnosed and treated appropriately. Many drugs can cause fatigue as a side effect, including allergy medications, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. Someone who suspects that they are experiencing fatigue due to a medication that they are taking should bring up their concerns with their doctor.

Rare Fatigue Causes

Tiredness can also be caused by some less common conditions which can be more serious, including certain genetic disorders4, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and cancer5. It is a good idea to get a full workup by your family doctor and/or naturopathic doctor in order to find the cause of the fatigue and have it treated properly.

Treatment

Treatment of fatigue depends on the cause and will be different for each case. For example, supplementing with iron is the best treatment in anemia but hemochromatosis is characterized by iron that is too high and “blood-letting” (donating blood) is the best treatment.

The best thing that a person who finds themselves constantly tired can do is eat a healthy diet, increase their exercise level and get 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Your naturopathic doctor can design a comprehensive diet and lifestyle plan with you which is best suited to your needs. Your naturopathic doctor can also diagnose and treat a wide variety of specific health conditions, including those which cause fatigue.

References

  1. “How Much Physical Activity Do You Need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Mar. 2011. Web. 12 Mar. 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/index.html.
  2. Goodman KI, Salt WB 2nd. Vitamin B12 deficiency. Important new concepts in recognition. Postgrad Med. 1990 Sep 1;88(3):147-50, 153-8.
  3. “Medications That May Cause Fatigue.” Gather. Harvard Health Publications, 10 June 2008. Web. 12 Mar. 2012. http://health.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474977367938.
  4. Board, A.D.A.M. Editorial. “Causes, Incidence, and Risk Factors.” Hemochromatosis. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov. 0000. Web. 12 Mar. 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001368/.
  5. Board, A.D.A.M. Editorial. “Causes, Incidence, and Risk Factors.” Lung Cancer. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov. 0000. Web. 12 Mar. 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004529/.

Dr. Colin MacLeod ND

Dr. Colin MacLeod ND

Naturopathic Doctor at MacLeod Naturopathic
Dr. Colin is a naturopathic doctor practicing in Upper Tantallon in the Halifax Area. He was born and raised in rural Cape Breton and returned to Nova Scotia to practice after finishing his naturopathic education in Toronto. His practice focuses on pain management and maintaining health through physical activity and diet. He utilizes platelet-rich plasma, neural prolotherapy and acupuncture to keep his patients pain-free so that they can stay physically active, social and healthy.
Dr. Colin MacLeod ND

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