Overview of Fatigue
Fatigue is all too common these days, with our long work days, high-paced lifestyles, overscheduled social calendars, and ever-increasing family obligations. Our minds and bodies can keep up the pace for a while, but eventually succumb to their limitations, leaving us feel lethargic, unable to focus, and possibly in physical pain. While occasional fatigue is natural due to work, play, and the events that occur in our lives, chronic fatigue may not only endanger your health, it may be a sign of a significant health problem that requires medical attention.
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Symptoms of Fatigue
Symptoms of physical fatigue may include muscle soreness, weakness, or a general feeling of heaviness. Fatigued muscles are not nearly as responsive to commands, potentially making a person feel bulky, clunky, and uncoordinated. All of this achiness can make a person feel even more miserable thanks to the overall lack of energy that often accompanies fatigue. It may be very difficult to get up in the mornings, because the body is so tired.
If mentally fatigued, a person may feel as those they are perpetually zoning out. Even if not particularly sleepy, they may have a lowered attention span, making them unable to focus or concentrate on something for any length of time. Mental fatigue might also make it difficult to make decisions, solve problems, or perform other complex tasks.
Risks of Fatigue
The biggest risk of untreated fatigue is the constant state of physical and mental exhaustion. These can make a person feel terrible, become less productive, and feel emotionally vulnerable. Exhaustion can also potentially reduce immunity, causing increase susceptibility to colds and infections, which will be more difficult than usual to overcome.
Causes of Fatigue
As mentioned above, it is natural to feel fatigued after exertion. Our bodies typically adapt, however, allowing us to bounce back and become productive once again. The inability to recuperate from fatigue may indicate a more serious medical disorder, such as:
- Autoimmune disease (such as arthritis or celiac disease) or allergies.
- Anxiety, depression, or a panic disorder.
- Anemia or another blood disorder.
- Chemical dependency, drug interactions, or drug side effects.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy, or a neurological disorder.
- Hormonal imbalances, including diabetes and thyroid problems.
- Eating disorders or nutritional deficiencies.
- Cardiovascular problems, including atherosclerosis and heart disease.
- Heavy metal poisoning.
- Chronic pain.
- Insomnia, sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders.
Conventional Treatment of Fatigue
Fatigue, in itself, is not a conventional diagnosis for most doctors. Because its cause may be somewhat nebulous, dietary and lifestyle changes are typically the only recommendation unless there are other symptoms to warrant suspicion of a more defined medical disorder. Then, the doctors can set about treating the disease, but very often, treating the fatigue that the patient is experiencing is an afterthought.
Patients Medical's Treatment of Fatigue
At Patients Medical, we treat the patient, not the disease. Our practice is dedicated to comprehensive testing, taking an integrative approach to discovering the underlying causes of your fatigue using state of the art diagnostic technologies and developing a natural treatment program specifically for your case.
Treating fatigue is one of our specialties as Patients Medical. We first perform a comprehensive interview to begin to understand all the environmental factors that may be causing your fatigue, including lifestyle, diet, and work habits. To understand the elements of your body physiology that may be making it difficult to recover from exertion, we may also perform the following diagnostics:
- TRH stimulation test. TRH, or thyrotropin-releasing hormone, is a molecule that regulated production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which, as the name would suggest, stimulates the thyroid to secrete hormones. Through these hormones, the thyroid directs how the body burns energy. If the thyroid activity is not high enough (hypothyroidism) or too high (hyperthyroidism), fatigue may result.
- ACTH stimulation test. The adrenal glands also influence our stress response by releasing the hormone cortisol in response to ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) from the pituitary gland. During this test, the doctor will test the blood for basal cortisol (and ACTH) levels, inject ACTH, and then measure the cortisol levels in the blood an hour later. Insufficient cortisol may indicate adrenal insufficiencies such as adrenal fatigue syndrome or Addison's disease.
- Heavy metal testing. The accumulation of heavy metals, such as lead, can also lead to fatigue. Samples will be taken for blood tests and other diagnostics that will help us determine if you may be experiencing heavy metal toxicity.
- Testing for hormonal and metabolic balance. From insulin to sex hormones, there are a variety of misdirected (or overzealous) hormonal cues in the body that may be effecting how well your body metabolizes food and uses the energy from it. By generating a comprehensive hormonal and metabolic profile, we can potentially identify physiological imbalances that are causing you undue fatigue.
Please visit the links on the left side of the page or contact our offices to learn more about these and other conditions that may be causing your fatigue.
Begin Your Journey to Wellness with Patients Medical
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