6 Things That Could Be Causing Your Fatigue
HealthCentral Editorial Team Aug 29, 2012 (updated Dec 4, 2013)
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Fatigue is a common problem, especially among women, but there is not always an easy diagnosis. Here are some causes of fatigue and tiredness that may get overlooked.
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Anemia/low iron levels
Fatigue can be caused by iron-deficiency anemia, which occurs because the body doesn't have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to all the parts of the body. However, fatigue can occur even if you have low iron levels, but not to the point of being anemic. Ask your doctor for a blood test to see if your iron is low.
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Vitamin or nutrient deficiency
Fatigue can be caused by your diet if you are not getting all the nutrients you need. Though eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein is important to your energy levels, one way fatigue can pop up is when you aren't getting enough potassium. All meats and many fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts and soy products contain potassium, but diuretics, laxatives and steroids can deplete potassium.
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Sleep problems, such as insomnia and sleep apnea can take a toll on your energy during the day. However, certain lifestyle choices can contribute to fatigue. Staying up late to use your laptop, ipad or smart phone can cause you to become out of sync with your body clock, which is important to how rested you feel in the morning.
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Clinical depression can cause tiredness, and can also cause insomnia which leads to fatigue. Excessive stress, grief, alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, boredom and other life-altering events have been known to cause fatigue as well. Finding ways to relieve stress, such as yoga or exercise can help boost energy levels or pull you out of a slump. In more serious cases a visit to the doctor is necessary.
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Sometimes fatigue can be caused by problems with the thyroid gland. The thyroid produces hormones T4 and T3 to control your body's metabolic speed, and sometimes it doesn't produce enough, causing tiredness. This is especially a concern for middle-aged and older women.
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Tiredness and fatigue is one of the warning signs of heart failure. The heart is unable to pump enough blood to all the body's tissue, and instead, diverts blood away from less vital organs, such as limb muscles. People with this kind of fatigue have difficulty doing everyday tasks like climbing stairs, shopping or even walking.