Being tired all the time is one of the most common things patients say they deal with. Usually, it starts in the morning. Some can’t even function until they’ve had some stimulant, usually coffee, soda, sugar, or an energy drink.
Sometimes, they feel fine in the morning but get progressively tired as the day goes on. Others get extremely tired right after a meal. All of these cases can have different causes.
Obviously, if someone isn’t getting enough sleep or sleep is not restful and restorative, this needs to be fixed. Some simple things like Magnesium Deficiency, Thyroid problems, or Hormone Imbalances can be the cause. These can usually be found with simple blood testing.
It can sometimes be more challenging, like with Obstructive Sleep Apnea or Sleep Architecture issues, needing a Sleep Study to figure it out. Stress, bright lights, video screens, and electromagnetic radiation can play a part in the mind, not shutting off. Sleep is now it’s own specialty in medicine.
If sleep and rest are not the issues, then it’s time for testing. A test called Organic Acids can find Amino Acid, Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies, and other problems. It also can check for Mitochondrial Dysfunction.
Mitochondria are little powerhouses in our cells that use nutrients from food to make ATP, our energy molecule. Common deficiencies like CoQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, B-Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acid, and others can grind the mitochondrial machinery to a halt. Many nutrients and cofactors need to be present for each step in a long chain of cellular reactions that ultimately results in energy. Finding out if you have any deficiencies is critical to getting to the bottom of Chronic Fatigue.
Thyroid problems, Hypothyroidism (low thyroid), and Hyperthyroidism (high thyroid), are common causes of fatigue. Other common symptoms include Cold Hands and Feet, Slow Pulse, Hair Loss, Weight Gain, Brain Fog, Water Retention, Constipation, Dry Skin, and more. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and tell other endocrine (hormone) organs to put out their respective hormones correctly.
Everything from energy, digestion, heartrate, skin oils, sex hormones, hair growth, mental clarity, weight management, and more are affected by the thyroid. Usually, in traditional medicine, a TSH check by blood is used to rule out Thyroid Dysfunction. However, this can be normal and you may still need thyroid hormone.
TSH is not actually Thyroid Hormone. It is a general hormone that comes from the Pituitary. It is a low-cost, basic check to see if the thyroid is functioning well.
Checking for Free T3 and Free T4 (actual thyroid hormones), Reverse T3, Thyroid antibodies, and other thyroid tests can find many cases where thyroid hormone may still help. We have helped numerous patients who lived with these symptoms for years, had a normal TSH on blood results, and couldn’t find anyone to listen. Once we did a more comprehensive workup, many were good candidates for thyroid treatment and finally improved.
Using Nutrition, Supplements, Natural Thyroid Hormones, Synthetic Thyroid Hormones (Synthroid and Cytomel), Adrenal Support, Detoxification, and other treatments, most thyroid patients find relief. There are many other ways to assess and treat thyroid function. Working with a Functional Medicine Provider who understands this can help.
Food Sensitivities also contribute to Chronic Fatigue. Delayed Reaction Food Sensitivities are common. Most people don’t know they have them.
Unlike scary Food Allergies we all hear about, they usually don’t result in a quick rash, trouble breathing, or outward signs that send someone to the Emergency Room for lifesaving treatment. They cause a low grade inflammation that may only be felt five days later as fatigue. The resulting gastrointestinal inflammation can decrease absorption in the GI tract, resulting in deficiencies already discussed.
Many people are just tired, overweight, retain water, have redness on the face, nose, chin, neck, or chest, and wouldn’t know it’s the banana they eat each morning. So, what’s scarier? A fast allergy you find out immediately so you stay away from that food, or an insidious, mild inflammation, keeping you miserable and unable to lose weight, no matter if you cut back on calories or work out all the time.
With a blood test, you can find out which foods are bothering you. They may be causing your immune system to run on high all the time. This can result in Chronic Fatigue, Weight Gain, Allergies, or even Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Chronic Fatigue can be cause by Parasites, Yeast Overgrowth (Candida), Hormone Imbalances, Digestive Problems, Gluten Sensitivity, Celiac Disease, Heavy Metals, Chemical Toxicity, Stress, Nutrient Deficiencies, and more.
As you can see, this is an expansive topic. Functional Medicine trains healthcare providers to search for causes and provides treatment for tricky problems like this. If you would like a Consultation for Chronic Fatigue or another issue, contact The Maine Center for Functional Medicine at (207) 941-0080.