Questions to Ask Yourself About Chronic Fatigue
Do you feel tired all the time?
Are you constantly exhausted?
Do you suffer from extreme tiredness and fatigue?
Do you need an energy drink or a jolt of coffee to get through the afternoon?
Chronic fatigue is not normal, and usually, you can detect the underlying culprits that stop you from having steady, sustained energy.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
It seems like everyone is tired today. We are driven to work faster and longer all while not getting enough sleep, feeling stressed, and making poor food choices.
At its worst, extreme fatigue manifests as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which occurs when someone feels tired most of the time, and that fatigue has lingered longer than six months.
Even with proper rest, if you have chronic fatigue syndrome, you still feel excessive tiredness. You have severe difficulty performing physical and mental activities, and when you do, symptoms like muscle weakness; headaches; mental fatigue; joint pain, and fever only get worse.
Chronic fatigue syndrome can last for years. Doctors remain baffled about what causes this condition, and there are no tests to officially diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome. To make matters more confusing, chronic fatigue is a symptom of many illnesses.
Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Doctors have narrowed down some of the triggers for chronic fatigue syndrome. Everyone is different, though, and may experience symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome differently, but the Centers for Disease Control and doctors classify chronic fatigue syndrome as having at least four of the following physical symptoms for at least six months:
- Post-exertional malaise (a massive energy crash that would only be minor in non-CFS sufferers)
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Impaired memory or concentration
- Muscle pain
- Polyarthralgia (joint pain but without inflammation)
- Sore throat
- Tender lymph nodes
Chronic fatigue syndrome can only be diagnosed when other diseases have been ruled out, but that’s the problem: You may experience fatigue as a symptom of other health conditions.
What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Why chronic fatigue syndrome occurs is unclear and complex. Researchers conclude that infections, like pneumonia and bronchitis, and other immune deficiencies are related to chronic fatigue syndrome. Depression, pain, and sleep disturbances frequently occur with chronic fatigue syndrome.
If you suspect chronic fatigue syndrome, you should find a healthcare practitioner who can take a holistic approach to your health and uncover underlying health issues and lifestyle factors that may contribute to your fatigue.
Unfortunately, patients sometimes feel frustrated that they haven’t been able to get answers from their doctors or by asking Google. They might see symptoms like chronic fatigue as “in their head” or they lack motivation or willpower.
Causes of Extreme Fatigue
Many people struggle with fatigue, which has many causes; some obvious, others not so much. Causes of chronic fatigue include poor quality or not enough sleep, a bad diet, not exercising, and metabolic and hormonal imbalances. It becomes a vicious cycle when fatigue sets in and worsens your fatigue.
But you can manage your fatigue when you first figure out the root cause—or causes of feeling tired all the time. Some reasons why you might feel extreme fatigue include:
- Adrenal burnout (that requires adrenal fatigue treatment)
- Thyroid imbalances (hyperthyroid or hypothyroid)
- Other hormonal imbalances like testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol
- Being a perfectionist (always having to be on your A game)
- Being around overly critical or negative people
- Not having a positive mindset
- Food sensitivities (especially if you feel fatigue after eating)
- Mitochondrial dysfunctions – mitochondria are those little power plants in your cells. Malfunctioning mitochondria can create massive energy crashes.
- Overexercise – a good workout should leave you feeling energetic and strong. Overexercising or overtraining can have the opposite effect, creating chronic fatigue that zaps your energy and mood.
- Toxicity – including things like environmental pollutants, but also less-obvious toxins, including mold, mercury from amalgams, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from electronics.
This list goes on, and oftentimes multiple factors create or worsen fatigue. On the other hand, chronic fatigue might result from one primary reason, like poor sleep, stress, a bad diet, or not getting the right nutrients. These five strategies may help you boost your energy.
How to Combat Fatigue
1. Eliminate sugar and processed or packaged foods.
Eat a candy bar and your energy will usually plummet soon after. Sugar and other refined carbohydrates give you a little shot of energy, but at a huge expense: Those blood sugar spikes nosedive quickly, leaving you feeling drained. If eliminating sugar completely is too challenging, gradually trade it for lower-sugar foods, like berries, to transition off sugar. Eat nuts instead of chips or cookies.
2. Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol.
That afternoon coffee might give you a temporary boost, but if you metabolize caffeine poorly or use caffeine as a crutch for things like bad sleep, coffee can zap your energy. Alcohol can too. It may calm your nerves for a short time, but may leave you drained or mentally foggy a few hours later.
3. Get 7 – 9 hours of sleep nightly.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Some questions you can ask yourself to see if you are not sleeping enough include: Does it take me a long time to fall asleep? Do I wake up often or am I restless? Do I feel sleepy when driving? Do I need caffeine to get through the day? Answer, “yes,” to any of these indicates you may not be getting enough quality sleep.
Spending hours at the gym isn’t doing your chronic fatigue levels any good – remember overexercising can be a culprit of chronic fatigue syndrome. The most effective way to exercise and increase your energy is through the high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These short, intense “bursts” give you a full workout in little time.
5. Find ways to relax and reset your mind.
For some people, taking 20 minutes during the afternoon to meditate can be enough to recharge. Maybe yoga or deep breathing is your thing. Whatever you do, find time to relax and reset your mind.
Chronic fatigue can impair your health and happiness, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A chiropractor may help address any interference in your spine that may contribute to fatigue, as well as help manage the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. While it may take some time, and some behavior changes, you can get your energy back and reclaim your health and wellbeing.