Seven Causes of Fatigue—and How to Fight Them!
BY Advocate Contributors
July 20 2011 4:00 AM ET
'If you are in your reproductive years, and particularly if you experience heavy menstrual cycles, have fibroid tumors or uterine polyps, or if you've recently given birth, the blood loss may have caused you to develop anemia—a leading cause of fatigue in women,' says Amaru.
Problems occur, she says, when the bleeding leads to a deficiency of hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of your body. When your tissues and organs don't get enough oxygen, she says, the result is fatigue.
Other causes of anemia include internal bleeding, or a deficiency of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12. Anemia may also be caused by chronic diseases like kidney disease, for example. Symptoms can include dizziness, feeling cold, and irritability.
To confirm a diagnosis of anemia, your physician will give you a blood test. Treatment, she says, usually consists of iron supplements if iron deficiency is the cause, and adding iron-rich foods—such as spinach, broccoli, and red meat—to your diet.
The good news: With effective treatment, your fatigue should begin to lift in 30 days or less.
If you are generally sluggish, run down, and even a little depressed, Goldberg says the problem may be a slow thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck and controls your metabolism, the speed at which your body operates.
'I believe that undiagnosed thyroid disorder is one of the major female health problems in this country. I think it is even more widespread than anyone realizes,' says Goldberg.
According to the American Thyroid Foundation, by age 60 approximately 17% of all women will have a thyroid disorder and most won't know it. The most common cause, they say, is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. This condition causes the body to destroy the cells responsible for producing thyroxin and other hormones secreted by the thyroid gland. The result is hypothyroidism, or a slow metabolism.
Blood tests known as T3 and T4 will detect thyroid hormones. If these hormones are low, Goldberg says synthetic hormones can bring you up to speed and you should begin to feel better fairly rapidly.