Are you tired all the time? While a too busy lifestyle and lack of sleep are definite culprits, you may not be aware of other health issues that contribute to chronic tiredness.
Signs and symptoms that your chronic tiredness may be coming from undetected health issues include:
- Headaches with stress or in the afternoon
- Frequent colds and flus; weak immune system
- Slow to get going in the morning
- Craving sweets and stimulants
- Feeling lightheaded, shaky, or irritable between meals
- Eating to relieve fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping; wake up at 3 or 4 a.m.
- Dizziness when moving from sitting to standing
- Low blood pressure
- Brain fog
Below I describe factors other than sleep deprivation that can lead to chronic tiredness.
- Consuming too much sugar and processed carbs. Every time you eat something sweet or starchy your blood sugar swings up and down dramatically. This causes your body to release stress hormones and over time leads to low blood sugar and chronic tiredness. Low blood sugar can also have you waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning, robbing you of precious sleep. Avoid sugar and eat a high-fiber, whole foods diet with healthy fats to avoid spiking your blood sugar.
- Indulging in caffeine and energy drinks. Caffeine, energy drinks, cigarettes, diet pills, and other stimulants release stress hormones and can cause chronic tiredness over time.
- Over exercising. Too much exercise raises inflammation and taxes the body’s stress handling system, causing chronic tiredness. Exercising should make you feel more energetic overall, not run down and depleted.
- Food sensitivities. Eating foods your immune system reacts to raises stress levels and contributes to chronic tiredness. One of the most common food sensitivities is to gluten, a protein found in wheat. Dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and yeast are other foods that can cause inflammation and chronic tiredness. Following a strict Paleo diet for a while or performing a food sensitivity test through Cyrex Labs can help you determine food sensitivities.
- Gut infections. Modern diets create inflamed, infected, and overly permeable digestive tracts, which stresses the body and leads to chronic tiredness. Many people have too much harmful yeast, fungus, and bacteria in their guts due to poor diets. These infections lead to chronic inflammation, wear down the gut lining, and tire the body.
- Autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys a part of the body, is extremely common today. Autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and more. Many people are not diagnosed until late stages when symptoms are severe. In the meantime, chronic tiredness is a common symptom of undiagnosed autoimmune disease. Fortunately, we now have lab testing that can screen for 24 different autoimmune reactions in one test.
- Brain inflammation. All of the issues I listed above inflame the brain. The most common symptoms of brain inflammation are brain fog, low brain endurance, slow mental speed, and chronic tiredness.
As you can see, addressing chronic tiredness can be about more than getting enough down time and sleep (although that is the first place to start!). To truly address why you are always tired, it’s important to know why. I hope this article gave you some insight into some common reasons for chronic fatigue.
Dr. David B. Tuchinsky, D.C., PLLC
St. Augustine Functional Medicine Practitioner, Speaker and Author
Direct any questions to: email@example.com