Fatigue can affect just about anyone, but it is one of the top health concerns for women in the United States. And for good reason. Women, on average, are over 50% more likely to experience fatigue than men. Women ages 18 to 44 are twice as likely. This is because many causes of fatigue are more common in women.
Fatigue is a complex problem that can involve a web of hormones issues, deficiencies, and disease. While both sexes experience a cascade of hormones during puberty, women experience hormonal changes on a regular basis throughout their reproductive years all the way into menopause. This presents a unique challenge when addressing fatigue for women. The good news? Identifying the cause (or causes) can lead to a treatment and put some pep back in your step… for both sexes.
Theses are some of the most common causes, especially for women. Some can be managed with a healthier lifestyle, others require a medical diagnosis and treatment. But healthier choices can complement regular treatment.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. Thyroid hormones control how the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body. Whether it’s over or under producing, you’ll experience fatigue. To low and you don’t have enough energy and will feel sluggish. To high and you’ll eventually burnout.
Thyroid problems are more common in women, though the reason isn’t entirely clear. It is likely related to genetics and hormones. Autoimmune diseases also play a role in some thyroid disorders, which are also more common in women. A blood test is needed to confirm a problem before treatment can begin.
Traditional treatments are medications that either replace the under performing thyroid hormones or slow down an over-active one. While these meds will be crucial, diet can play a huge role in managing thyroid issues. For either type, avoiding sugar, caffeine, and refined carbohydrates will help as these can throw your blood sugar out-of-whack and add un-need stress to the thyroid. Studies also point to making sure you get enough iodine, selenium, and zinc as well reducing the amount of processed food you consume.
When your heart isn’t pumping efficiently, blood can’t supply all the body with the nutrients it needs. This can cause symptoms of fatigue, especially in women. Heart disease may be viewed as a man’s disease, but it is still a big health concern for women; even more than cancer. Almost twice as many women die from heart disease compared to all kinds of cancer combined.
Knowing you risk for different kinds of heart diseases and controlling known conditions, like high blood pressure, is important. But there are many things that you can do to help. These include eating right, staying stress free, and getting regular exercise.
Vitamin D deficiency
Our bodies make vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Deficiency is becoming more common with how much we’ve begun to avoid the sun. Others don’t consume enough in their diet or can’t properly absorb it into their bodies. Regardless, a lack of it can sap your bone strength and has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome.
A blood test can confirm if you are deficient in vitamin D. If levels are low, supplements can help. But be sure to check with your doctor first. To much vitamin D can build up to toxic levels.
Iron deficiency anemia
Like heart disease struggling to send enough blood to the body, anemia makes it harder for your blood to deliver enough oxygen throughout the body. The result is fatigue and sluggishness as oxygen is critical for energy production. Women are particularly susceptible due to their menstrual cycle. They may be losing to many nutrients and iron in the blood during their period.
A blood test can confirm low levels of iron or another problem causing an issue with oxygen delivery. The answer is usually iron supplementation, but other nutrients may be required. When it comes to supplements, not all brands are equal. Make sure your iron supplement is readily absorbable and of sufficient quantities. A doctor can help you find the right supplement for you.
Sleep deficiency – Sleep Apnea
It might seem obvious to say, “Get more sleep!” if you’re feeling tired. But if your sleep isn’t restful, it might be important to find out why. Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing in your sleep. This causes the brain to jolt you awake to get your breathing again. When this occurs you never get a good night’s sleep.
Try to form a calming nighttime routine. Soft music, chamomile tea, or some light reading can all help you drift off to sleep easier. Make sure you turn off all screens as blue light can keep you awake. If sleep apnea is the culprit, a doctor might prescribe a CPAP machine or advise weight loss if it is a factor.
Depression and fatigue are often interconnected and fuel each other. People who are depressed are more than four times as likely to be tired, and those who are fatigued are almost three times as likely to be depressed. Stress and worry are factors in depression and they also keep us tossing and turning at night.
Treating depression will increase your energy and battling other causes of fatigue will help with depression. While your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or therapy, there are some things you can do to help. Meditation and exercise can help with stress and eating right can boost your health and how you feel, physically. Your feelings are important. Talking with a friend that is willing to listen or a mental health professional can also be beneficial.
Kick your fatigue
These are just a few of the reasons you might experience fatigue. But you don’t have to live with it. Finding out the cause behind it is critical to getting your energy back. Make sure you talk about it with your doctor or chiropractic. It’s an important part of your health!