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Categories > Sleep Disorders > Fighting fatigue

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Tired all the time?
Uncover the cause

When you’re a busy woman, it’s easy to blame your exhaustion on work or the rigors of raising a family. But sometimes health conditions can also leave you feeling energy-starved. If you’re always tired, talk with your healthcare provider. Using blood tests, physical exams and other diagnostic tools, he or she may uncover health problems such as:

  • Anemia. The condition occurs when your blood has a lower-than-usual number of red blood cells (RBCs) due to blood loss, inadequate blood-cell production or destruction. RBCs help carry oxygen to the rest of your body. Without enough of these cells, you’re left feeling tired. Dietary changes and supplements can often help restore your RBCs.
  • Type 2 diabetes. People with unchecked levels of glucose in the bloodstream often feel fatigued. Glucose-lowering medication, exercise, weight loss and healthful eating can all help get type 2 diabetes under control.
  • Hypothyroidism. When your thyroid fails to make enough hormones that regulate body functions, your metabolism slows, which can make you feel sluggish. Autoimmune disease, radiation exposure to the thyroid, thyroid surgery and certain medications can trigger hypothyroidism, which is treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone.
  • Depression. Depression is a serious medical condition that can sap your strength. It can be triggered by the birth of a baby (postpartum depression) or a change in seasons (seasonal affective disorder) or may be part of a larger condition, such as bipolar disorder. Antidepressants and talk therapy are two common depression treatments.
  • Sleep apnea. That daytime fatigue could be attributed to sleep apnea, the brief interruption of breathing throughout the night. The most common type, obstructive sleep apnea, occurs when soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes and blocks air. Avoiding alcohol and medications that relax the central nervous system, quitting smoking and losing weight can help. If they don’t, oral appliances, special pillows and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a treatment that uses a face mask, may be used.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome. When your fatigue lasts longer than six months and causes at least four of the following symptoms—memory or concentration problems; sore throat; tender lymph nodes; muscle pain; multijoint pain without swelling or redness; new headaches; unrefreshing sleep; and fatigue lasting more than 24 hours after activity—it could be chronic fatigue. The condition has no known causes and no definitive treatments, so medical professionals focus on alleviating symptoms with stress management, physical therapy and medications.


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