The Chronic Fatigue Conundrum

Do you struggle to lift your head off the pillow in the morning, and feel exhausted all day long? If you laid down in the middle of the day, would you quickly fall asleep? Is it harder to do the things you used to enjoy? Do you tire easily and seem to bounce back from stress less easily than you used to?

Does exercise wear you out instead of give you energy?  Are you even able to exercise like you did in the past?  Do you become winded if you run up a flight of stairs?  Do you get lightheaded or dizzy if you stand up too quickly from the bed or a chair?  Do you experience brain fog or difficulty remembering simple instructions?

Chronic Fatigue can have many different underlying causes, and is a more and more common diagnosis,  often alongside fibromyalgia, depression, or other conditions that leave people with little answers.  

When clients come to me with these symptoms, I am looking at it from all angles, to uncover their root cause (or causes), so we can address these imbalances in the body, and give the person their life back!

The most common reasons for Chronic Fatigue

The most common reasons for Chronic Fatigue, are often glossed over, or never mentioned at all in the doctors office.  And in many cases, clients have more than one of these contributing factors.  These contributing factors lead to a decreased quality of life, that is most often completely reversible!

Iron Anemia

Low iron levels can cause unrelenting fatigue and weakness.  People will often say they feel ‘winded’ if they exert themselves, and sometimes feel they ‘can’t get enough air’ or want to lay down a lot.  The truth is, iron anemia is a condition where you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues, so you are literally starved of oxygen.

B12/ Folate Anemia

Folate Anemia occurs when there is insufficient B12 or folate to cause red blood cells to mature or when there is any kind of dysfunction in the process of creating and then recycling red blood cells. The result is fatigue, memory impairments, and overall low energy.  Many functional practitioners consider anemia as the “deal breaker” –if you have it in any form, it needs to be corrected before any other true healing can be achieved.

Adrenal Fatigue

Our adrenal glands are our glands of stress, and they are involved in the processes of and recovery from most chronic illnesses.  These little glands play an enormous role in our overall health,  our stress resiliency, energy, endurance, and our very life depend on their proper functioning!  Your adrenals significantly affect the functioning of every tissue, organ, and gland in your body, and they also have important effects on the way you think and feel.  Chronic Fatigue is one of a few conditions that particularly stand out as having an adrenal component.

Thyroid Imbalances

Your thyroid gland and adrenal glands are two ends of the same stick!  If your adrenal glands are fatigued, they will always drag down the function of your thyroid gland.  It is nearly impossible to fully heal thyroid function when you haven’t addressed low functioning adrenals.  Hypothyroid (low thyroid function), is a very common cause of fatigue, since our thyroid gland has a primary effect on our overall energy production.  

Mitochondrial Stress

Your mitochondria are tiny “organelles” inside every cell in your body. Your mitochondria generate 90% of your body’s energy, and power the cells to perform vital functions. Mitochondrial dysfunction starts the beginning of a number of diseases, including cancer, and a common initial symptom is fatigue, as these tiny structures struggle to produce energy.  Nourishing the mitochondria can relieve brain starvation is people with cognitive impairment.

Chronic Viral Load in the Body

Chronic hidden viral infections are a common, yet often overlooked issue.  Viruses can lay dormant in our system for many years, and can be reactivated in times of prolonged stress, a trauma, or when our immune system is challenged.  Epstein Barr is one of the most common viruses, and is thought to infect 90% of the population.  EBV can cause chronic fatigue, and is even associated with a higher risk of certain autoimmune diseases,  (like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s, Type 1 Diabetes).  There are many other chronic viruses that can put a significant drain on our immune system, leading to chronic fatigue.  Assessing your body’s viral load is crucial when addressing a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue.

Chronic Yeast Overgrowth or Other Pathogens

Yeast overgrowths in the body are a common contributor to chronic fatigue.  Fungal infections like yeast, proliferate in the body when the internal environment is hospitable to them.  Yeast crowds out the beneficial flora we need to stay healthy.  It grows roots and can take hold in any area of the body, causing damage to our internal environment and causing constant fatigue.  The goal is always to change the internal environment and eradicate the yeast or other pathogens.

Low Brain Neurotransmitters

If we don’t produce enough of our own natural stimulants, (neurotransmitters called  Catecholamines)  we will feel physically and mentally exhausted.  This category of neurotransmitters, includes Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Adrenaline.  And we need all three of these to have the energy and feelings of well being to get through our daily lives.  If you are dependent on caffeine for energy, or if you take ADD drugs, there’s a high likelihood you are deficient in these critical brain chemicals, causing lack of motivation and physical and mental fatigue.

Lack of Delta Sleep

Ok so maybe this should have been first on our list, because it’s likely the first question- are you getting adequate deep sleep??  Deep sleep is critical to combating chronic fatigue, and there are many issues such as chronic pain, depression, hormone imbalances and others that interfere with our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.  Delta wave sleep is the deep stages of sleep that allow for regeneration and repair in our brains and our bodies. Without getting into this stage of sleep, even if you are getting adequate hours of sleep, it’s likely you’ll deal with fatigue and often irritability, as your brain and body are essentially malnourished without nightly delta wave activity.

The good news is that there are easy tests to determine which of these underlying causes are issues for you.  (other than Delta sleep, we can test all the possible causes listed here).   Know that the answer doesn’t have to be in the form of a prescription,  and armed with the right knowledge of what’s causing your symptoms,  you will have the power to heal your body (and brain) from this fatigue that overwhelms you.

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