Fatigue. It is something that plagues us more often than it should, and stands before us in ways and reasons we least expect. Tiredness is an all-encompassing umbrella of symptoms we use when we don’t know what is wrong with us. Some common things we tell ourselves typically are:
* I’m getting older.
*Work is getting the best of me.
*Maybe this is how life is supposed to be.
Let’s get real and talk about it. Not just chalk it up to “this is how life is.” So before filling that next prescription, or reaching for caffeine, let’s look at some causes.
- Hormonal imbalances. The female cycle begins entering peri-menopause around the age of 35 as it prepares to head into menopause. The fluctuating and many times irrational hormonal swings disrupt the adrenal, thyroid and insulin metabolism. This then causes an imbalance in the hormonal ecosystem. Similarly, declining testosterone levels in men results in hormonal fatigue. Pay attention and make note of any symptoms. While blood work doesn’t always confirm hormonal shifts, the body can clue us in on the upcoming changes.
- Food sensitivities. Just like with environmental allergies, the attack on our GI tract triggers an immunomodulated response via the mast cells. When the body is exposed to foods that it may be sensitive too, histamine is released causing a catalyst of inflammation. If you experience itchy skin, rashes, joint swelling, sudden depressive symptoms for no reason, headaches, runny nose, itchy eyes, etc, instead of checking the mold count, start looking in your pantry as to what might be causing it. Many times the tiredness we are experiencing starts in our own kitchen. Assume everything and anything is causing it, UNTIL you prove it othewise.
- Change in prescription manufacturers. This can be an entire blog by itself. In my 20 years of practice, I have never seen more symptoms arising from the very treatment that was designed to help the initial complaint. Regulations for quality control of medications that enter the U.S. are expected to maintain a level of “purity.” A single generic medication can be manufactured by multiple different companies. If you notice your medications look different from month to month, look at the label for the manufacturer name. All prescription labels will have either MFG or NDC#. The NDC# is the number given to each manufacture company. While the same generic medication you have been taking for years, now looks different, that very well could be exactly what is leading to more time spent on the couch. I advise all of my patients to keep a log of every single medication, the manufacturer, the appearance of the medicine, date filled and any corresponding symptoms. Having all the information in one table helps rule out a simple manufacturer change as a source. So before adding another thing to help you feel better, take out the possible offenders.
- Supplements. Since when did we need to start taking so many extras to slow down aging? Generations before us only needed what nature provided to live. So what has changed that we now require a pill box to keep our supplements straight? That is right, we don’t! First of all, ask your body what it is lacking that only replenishing with external sources will help. Next, check those levels. If levels are low, find out why they are low before adding another to the list. Most of the supplements we consume are not even necessary. Bring the body back to basics. Bring it into its natural healing. The fillers, binders, preservatives, and other chemicals dilute the active component. So we are again intoxicating our system with sources that is worsening the very symptom we thought was improving.
- Movement. It’s such a catch 22. We are so tired, we become sedentary. By being sedentary, we are adding to the fatigue. So how to stop this hamster wheel? Simple. Take the first step. Being inactive causes more than just a few lazy days. Studies have shown limited activity increases risk of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases and so on. You don’t have to go run a marathon. But you do have to lace up those shoes and take one step. One step will lead to two, and then three and then before you know it, your life will transform into a haven of energy and healing. I have friends who I have encouraged to get active, but they resist. I have better luck getting them to the gynecologist! I tell them this very same thing. At some point in each of our lives, we are ALL going to have to climb this mountain. It is inevitable. It is better to climb it now when it is not that steep and you have more people on your team to give you a hand up. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes and the lonelier it feels. May as well do it while you can. Work smarter! Not harder!
- Poor sleep. This seems obvious but I am going to bring it to you from an unconventional angle. YOU CANNOT CATCH UP ON SLEEP! We sleep so the human vehicle is able to” pull into the gas station” and fuel up and be ready to go the next day. If we compromise on our sleep, the body is expected to operate like it was on a full tank of gas but only half full. The great human machine’s only purpose is to keep us alive and operating. If it runs low on fuel, it pulls its resources from the hormones. Ahhhh……now you get it……..another way your hormones are affected!! You can’t expect the body to guzzle down a full tank so it can “catch up.” Just the same, each night we compromise on our sleep, is another opportunity lost. Turn off the screen and restore your life.
Fatigue is not some rare disease that we are trying to discover. It is an everyday symptom that is often times self-induced, knowingly or unknowingly.
Heal the body by taking things out. Remove the strangulation from gimmicky health promises. Escape the trap of fearing something is wrong with you. Allow this glorious physical existence to talk with you. Everything you need to know and hear is being conveyed to you. The human body has an enormous unimaginable ability to heal. Look 365 degrees in every direction and you will see that you have the ultimate power to discover and accept exactly what you need to live an optimal, healthy and flourished life!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on natural ways to relieve stress, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment.
This month truly focuses on one of the most critical elements to our functioning. You can’t walk through an isle of a store without coming face to face with one supplement or another. Each one promising to be the miracle cure for all of your ailments. But how much has science really proven the benefits of these pills? Do we really understand their benefits or are we just loading the shopping carts because it happened to be Dr.Oz’s drug of the week?
I absolutely believe and advocate supplementing our already deficient diet. The more help the better right? Maybe or maybe not.
The flavor of the month for May is Zinc. Zinc has earned rave reviews for its healing properties for the nagging cold or the sore that just won’t heal. What if I told you Zinc holds greater power than just helping with the sniffles?
The past 4 months have tail spinned me into the worst thyroid relapse I have had since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 12 years ago. I really felt I had a handle on the understanding of the thyroid, its functions, its nuances and its treatment. But when my symptoms came raging forth in April of this year landing me in the ER, I realized I have only begun to understand the true depth of the thyroid. After running a battery of tests, my Zinc levels were depleted to a staggering low of 45 (Optimal 100-150). This Zinc deficiency brought me to the worst hypothyroid symptoms I have ever experienced-severe fatigue, excruiating muscle pain, massive hair loss, unbelievable weight gain, extreme acne (I could have been a spokesperson for Proactive).
Because of the zinc deficiency, my thyroid took a direct hit and ceased to do any of its required functions. I began taking Zinc supplements over the last month and am only now slowly starting to see a mild improvement. With these recent events, I delved deeper into areas of the thyroid and I clearly underestimated the impact it has on our lives.
Several reports and documented studies suggest that zinc deficiency is a cause of subclinical hypothyroidism. If you have gone through your symptom check list and find a lot, if not all, mirror the symptoms related to thyroid but your thyroid levels register “normal”, zinc deficiency could very well be hindering optimal thyroid balance.
Zinc deficiencies are more prevalent in well-developed countries. Because zinc is a natural element found in muscles and everywhere on earth, eating a diet that includes lean red meats can help increase the levels of zinc. However, in many well-developed countries where health conscious individuals shun red meats, zinc deficiencies are a commonality
Significant relationships between thyroid volume and serum zinc levels showed low release of TSH, T3 and T4 as well as increasing thyroid antibodies in patient’s with autoimmune hypothyroidism.
Now before you go and start popping Zinc, request your doctor to check your levels. Although serum and plasma concentrations of Zinc are often times not 100%, it will at least give you a baseline. With Zinc, MORE IS NOT BETTER. Zinc toxicity actually worsens hypothyroid. Start with caution and monitor levels every couple of months. True Zinc deficiency often takes 4-6 months to balance. Patience, as with anything else, is key. You can’t rush optimization!
So all supplements are not bad and all supplements are not needed. Understand why you take what you take. Ask the questions and listen to the answers and if you are not content with those answers, ask again. Knowledge is power and understanding is key!
And of course, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact my office.