April 09, 2013
How many times a day do you mumble, “I’m just so tired of being tired!” If it wasn’t such a real struggle in so many women’s lives—it would be funny.
Unfortunately, if you take this symptoms into a doctor you generally don’t get much help.
All the labs are normal….
So we continue to live…..tired.
But we don’t have to….
What is underlying this epidemic of fatigue in women today?
This is my favorite answer to many questions—its multifactorial (meaning there are multiple underlying causes.)
When I meet with women one on one, the first thing we look at is natural hormone balance.
Do you have a lot of low thyroid function symptoms?
How do you respond to adversity in your head?
Are you on any synthetic hormones?
Do you have symptoms of an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone—PMS, painful periods, irregular cycles, infertility, etc.
Are you on multiple medications for these problems—pain meds, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, sleeping pills, headache drugs?
The first step is get back to baseline and make sure there isn’t something obvious….that is frequently overlooked or disregarded!
So many women get lost in the “specialty vortex” seeing their GI doc for tummy troubles, a neurologist for headaches and pain, their internist for frequent infections, and their OB for birth control and menstrual problems. If you are dealing with fatigue, and none of these specialists are helpful—you may need to step back and look at the big picture!
Next step is to consider vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Women are not aware of the fact that chronic use of synthetic hormones stresses the whole system—one reason is that these drugs have been shown to deplete the body of certain vitamins and minerals (all of which cause fatigue and a multitude of other problems).
Adding insult to injury, we also don’t always eat a balanced diet….mac and cheese with the two year old, chicken nuggets on the way to baseball practice with the boys….who has time to consistently fix meals that contain Kale, turnips, dragon fruit (I am saying these things tongue in cheek—not recommending them for regular consumption in your diet!)
There is also speculation that the widespread use of antibiotics is disrupting the normal flora of the gut—which could decrease vitamin absorption—stress increases this malabsorption.
Zinc, B vitamins, selenium, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and magnesium are fairly common deficiencies leading to fatigue.
Finally, taking a look at diet and general habits is important!
Food allergies are big right now—but a large percentage of women only get marginal relief of symtpoms—probably because they skipped step one and two!
In general, avoiding caffeine—I know, I know—that makes me LOL too.
Avoiding processes sugar and high carbohydrate foods is a good idea—I always feel better when I take the time to fix myself a healthy meal with protein (like salmon) and a veggie.
Then try eliminating dairy, gluten etc.
Lifestyle and habits include trying to get 7 hrs (or more) each night, and if that is unrealistic, then try to nap twice a week and choose two or three nights for good sleep. Sometimes this is a catch 22 because you can’t sleep! For a good sleep hygiene checklist, take a look at the Women in Balance website under “trouble sleeping.”
Finally, start to exercise! Even if this is just getting a yoga video to do with your kids at home or going for a walk a couple of times a week with a friend—start with the commitment of one day a week and gradually increase it.
Bottom line is that you shouldn’t have to live with fatigue—there are multiple reasons for being tired even when all the labs are normal. Don’t just settle for going through life tired! If you would like Dr. Heap to help--there are two different types of personalized consulting!