Chronic fatigue can have a huge impact on your quality of life. It can affect everything from your work life to your social life and leave you feeling like you should be taking a nap not too long after you’ve had your first coffee. The good news is that you don’t have to let fatigue take over your life.
Once you know the signs and symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), it can be fairly simple to identify. You have the power to change your habits and restore your energy levels so that you can live a happier and more productive life. We’re getting into all the details on CFS, including what signs to look for and how you can combat the tiredness that comes with chronic fatigue syndrome.
First, let’s talk about what fatigue looks like.
Signs You’re Experiencing Fatigue
According to a study by Oracle, a Texas-based software company, more than 80% of workers say they’re stressed. In fact, 70% of workers described the pandemic as the most stressful period of their lives. However, workers have always been stressed to some degree. In 2017, the National Safety Council polled Americans and found that 43% of workers were too tired to perform their jobs safely. For many people, fatigue isn’t just a minor inconvenience; it can put their lives in jeopardy. This makes identifying it all the more critical. However, fatigue can hide in seemingly simple habits and ailments.
Things to pay attention to:
It turns out that being “sick and tired” isn’t just a phrase. Chronic stress can cause major burnout resulting in inflammation, diminished immune function, and fatigue.
Do you reach out for the chocolate when you’re feeling tired and need a pick-me-up? Or perhaps you are more of a salty snack person. In an effort to boost energy levels, many people tend to go for the junk food when they are experiencing fatigue. Cravings like this can feel so natural that this bad habit can be completely missed!
Lack of Sleep
Binging one too many late-night episodes on Netflix can certainly result in a lack of sleep, but what if you knew you wouldn’t be able to get to sleep, anyway? If your circadian rhythm seems to be out of whack, chronic fatigue syndrome could be involved.
If you experience issues like acne, headaches, or an upset stomach alongside your fatigue, food sensitivities could be to blame. This gives you all the more reason to cut out offending foods or to test to identify the ones that bother you if you don’t already know.
Reliance on Caffeine
Sometimes you wake up in the morning and want to tip the whole coffee pot straight into your mouth. Rough nights happen! However, when you find yourself pounding cup after cup of Joe all day long over a period of time just to function, that’s a major red flag that something with your health needs to be addressed.
Autoimmune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis come with a whole host of unwanted symptoms, typically including fatigue. Fatigue can be one of the first signs of autoimmunity or an impending flare, so it pays to pay attention to your whole body when you’re feeling exhausted.
Maybe you’ve forgotten the phone number you’ve had for the last 15 years or you keep having to pause mid-conversation in order to think of that one word that’s just on the tip of your tongue even though in actuality, it feels very, very far away. Brain fog resulting from fatigue impacts your ability to think and act as you normally would and can be downright frustrating and even scary. For those who work in certain professions, like the medical field, a mistake made due to brain fog can be the difference between life or death.
Feeling down in the dumps and not knowing why is the worst. However, chronic fatigue can have surprisingly detrimental effects on your mood.
How to Fight Fatigue
Fatigue is associated with a variety of other health issues, so it’s no surprise that addressing it can improve your overall health. Let’s examine what you can do to kick fatigue to the curb.
First, the traditional approaches to treating chronic fatigue syndrome may still improve your quality of life even if they don’t address the root cause of your fatigue. Typical treatments can include things like sleep hygiene, prescription medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, and exercise therapy.
However, when fatigue presents in conjunction with other health problems like body aches, joint pain, gastrointestinal discomfort, or insomnia, you may find yourself traveling between specialists’ offices – and paying the high co-pays that go along with those trips.
Functional Health Approaches
Functional medicine approaches chronic fatigue syndrome in a different way. Rather than treating the symptoms of extreme tiredness and all of the complications that arise from it, functional medicine seeks to discover the deepest causes of fatigue so that it can be attacked from all angles. When you’re ready to chat with a functional health specialist like Progressive Health and Wellness, we might discuss some of these items:
Just to be safe, it’s usually a good idea to have some blood work done. Depending on your symptoms, we may also suggest that you do hormone testing as well as digestive testing. There isn’t a one-size-fits all approach to addressing chronic fatigue, but testing is generally a smart start.
It’s important to address any issues like infections that may be going on within the digestive tract. Focusing on your gut health can also balance your microbiome and reduce inflammation within the body. Since inflammation affects overall health and can result in fatigue, reducing inflammation in the gut is a good start in boosting energy levels.
What you can do now:
- Reduce sugar consumption
- Limit stress
- Eliminate gluten
- Test your digestive system
Diet and Nutrient Deficiencies
Sometimes, chronic fatigue is as simple as a nutrient deficiency. Levels of B vitamins, vitamin D, and magnesium are often low in individuals due to over-farming in the agricultural industry stripping nutrient content from the soil. Many people also don’t get enough sunlight. Nutrient testing can uncover deficiencies in other important vitamins too.
In terms of overall dietary choices, since casein in dairy and gluten in products like breads, sweets, and pastas can spike levels of inflammation in the blood, it’s best to avoid them.
What you can do now:
- Get tested for levels of vital nutrients
- Eliminate dairy and gluten from your diet
Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to a massive uptick in inflammation in the body. One way inflammation presents is through fatigue. Since high levels of cortisol and adrenaline can lead to a shrunken hippocampus (the part of the brain that controls memory) and even smaller muscles, it’s doubly important to address the stress in our lives. Meditation trains your brain to turn off the fight or flight response so you can settle down and relax peacefully.
What you can do now:
- Limit stress in your life when possible
- Engage in some positive, soothing meditation
Chronic fatigue syndrome can be caused by one factor or several. The good news is that you can address the root cause of your fatigue rather than simply respond to your symptoms. If you need some help discovering what’s causing your fatigue, let us know! We’re happy to help.
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