I’m so tired! Migun USA Corp. The fatigue won’t go away. Tiredness is such a common complaint that it’s easy to overlook it as a possible warning sign that something else is wrong. If you’re always tried and your fatigue doesn’t vanish after plenty of rest, it may be alerting you to an undiagnosed illness. Anemia This potentially life threatening condition occurs when the amount of oxygen carrying hemoglobin in red blood cells falls below normal. The body is forced to work harder to get oxygen to vital organs, straining the heart. When it’s severe, anemia can lead to Iron rich red meat is one Rx heart attack. Anemia Possible causes include deficiencies of iron, folate (a B vitamin), or vitamin B12; blood loss from surgery or heavy menstrual periods; chemotherapy treatments; and chronic disease, such as kidney disease, diabetes, and hepatitis C. What the fatigue feels like. You tire easily, feel lethargic, and notice that tasks you used to do with ease- such as shopping for groceries or taking out the garbage- now require effort. Anemia Other symptoms. Chest pain, shortness of breath, pale complexion, rapid heart rate, feeling cold. Do this now. Depending on what’s causing your anemia, your doctor may recommend supplements, healthier food choices, prescription medication, or other treatments or tests. Women who have heavy menstrual flows might benefit from birth control pills, which can reduce blood loss. Best test. A blood test measuring total blood count, hemoglobin, and serum ferritin (a measure of the iron stored in our body). Depression One of the most common mental illness, depression affects more than 19 million Americans each year. Depression What the fatigue feels like. For some, it’s a debilitating, all-day fatigue, for others, it’s a sluggish feeling that never leaves, even after plenty of rest. It may be more noticeable in the morning. You may find yourself sleeping too much or too little. Other symptoms. Changes in eating habits; lack of motivation; lethargy’ irritability; hopelessness; not finding pleasure in activities, hobbies, sex, or friendship. Depression Do this now. Contact a mental-health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or pastoral counselor. If you need help finding one, ask our family doctor for a referral. Best test. A depression screening test is available online at www.depression- screen.org. Kidney disease This condition occurs when your kidney’s don’t filter enough waste from your blood, causing toxins and fluid to build up and make you feel sick. Kidney disease Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two most common causes of kidney disease. The condition itself can cause high blood pressure, as well as anemia, thinning bones, nerve damage, and poor nutritional health. Kidney disease also increase your risk of heart and blood vessel disease. Kidney disease What the fatigue feels like. You’re easily tired and feel like you’re constantly out of breath, especially at the end of the day. The fatigue is caused by anemia, which people with kidney disease develop. Other symptoms. Weight loss, itching, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, swelling or numbness in hands or feet, frequent urination. Kidney disease Do this now. Ask your doctor about the GFR (glomerular filtration rate) test, especially if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a parent or sibling with kidney disease. An early screening is critical because you can lose up to 70% of your kidney functions before symptoms appear. Best test. The National Kidney Foundation recommends three simple test to screen for kidney disease: blood pressure, urine test for protein, and a calculation of GFR when you have your blood drawn. Chronic fatigue syndrome Chronic fatigue syndrome is difficult to diagnose and is characterized by a persistent or relapsing fatigue of 6 or more consecutive months. Chronic fatigue syndrome What the fatigue feels like. Profound exhausting and poor stamina that aren’t alleviated by bed rest. Symptoms may worsen for days following even minor physical or mental exertion. Other symptoms. Poor concentration and short term memory; flu like symptoms, including muscle and joint pain, tender lymph nodes, and headache; blurring and other vision problems; irritable bowel. Chronic fatigue syndrome Do this now. Find a primary care doctor or specialist who is knowledgeable about CFS and make an appointment. Your own doctor may know very little about the disease. Best test. CFS is a diagnose of exclusion- a doctor must first rule out other medical conditions that have the same symptoms before he can make a definite diagnosis. Hyperthyroidism When the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, it’s called hyperthyroidism. Untreated, it may lead to osteoporosis or a dangerously irregular heartbeat, which can be life threatening. Hyperthyroidism What the fatigue feels like. Muscle weakness, which is especially noticeable when you are exercising. Other symptoms. Restless sleep and insomnia, inability to concentrate, unexplained weight loss, feeling warm and sweaty, more frequent bowel movements. Menstrual periods become less frequent and lighter. Hyperthyroidism Do this now. See your primary care doctor, who may refer you to an endocrinologist for therapy. Best test. A blood test for thyroid- stimulating hormone (TSH). A low reading may indicate an overactive thyroid gland. Sleep apnea This sleep disorder-which can cause cardiovascular damage is characterized by shallow or stopped breathing during sleep. Untreated sleep apnea may contribute to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Sleep apnea What the fatigue feels like. You’re overly tired during the day and may nod off at inappropriate moments or have a strong urge to nap. Other symptoms. Loud snoring, morning headaches, heartburn, poor concentration, frequent nighttime urination. Sleep apnea Do this now. Ask your primary care doctor to refer you to a sleep specialist. Best test. Polysomnograhpy, which is an overnight sleep study at a sleep clinic. Mononucleosis Caused by the Epstein Barr virus, mono is called “ the kissing disease” but is usually spread through coughing or sneezing Mononucleosis What the fatigue feels like. It comes on suddenly. You feel lethargic, weak, and very sleep. Other symptoms. Fever, rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite. Mononucleosis Do this now. See your primary physician if symptoms aren’t gone in a week. Best test. A blood test known as the monospot test. Positive results will not occur until you’ve had mono for 1 to 2 weeks. Multiple sclerosis The chronic, unpredictable autoimmune disease affects the central nervous system, and is most common in young adults. Multiple sclerosis What the fatigue feels like. Ordinary activities such as doing laundry take so much physical effort that they’re exhausting. The fatigue often begins in the morning , even after a good night’s sleep, and worsens as the day goes on. Other symptoms. Difficulty walking, loss of balance, dizziness, numbness and tingling, pain, bladder and bowel dysfunction, vision problems. Multiple sclerosis Do this now. See your primary care doctor, who may refer you to a neurologist, preferably one who specializes in MS. Symptoms may come and go, so you might have to see several doctors before you get a definite diagnosis. Best tests. No single test can identify or rule out MS. However, certain tests may lead your neurologist closer to a diagnosis, they include: an MRI scan of the brain and sometimes the spinal cord; evoked potential tests to measure how quickly your nervous system responds to certain types of stimulation; and a spinal tap, which checks spinal fluid for signs of the disease. Fibromyalgia This chronic illness is marked by widespread musculoskeletal aches, pain, tenderness, and stiffness in any part of the body; fatigue; and sleep disturbance. Fibromyalgia What the fatigue feels like. It’s as if you were hit by a truck. When you wake up, you feel like you haven’t slept. Your body is stiff, and you have little energy to do the simplest tasks. Other symptoms. Muscle and joint pain (which may be deep, aching, throbbing, or stabbing); numbness, tingling, and burning; restless legs syndrome; irritable bowel and bladder; heartaches and migraine; dry mouth and eyes; and anxiety and depression. Fibromyalgia Do this now. Start with your primary care doctor, who may refer you to a rheumatologist (arthritis specialist). Best test. To get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, you must have pain all over your body for at least 3 months and tenderness and pain in at least 11 of 18 “tender point.” Hepatitis C This liver disease is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person. Hepatitis What the fatigue feels like. An allover tiredness that makes even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming. You’re tired and achy and unable to concentrate. Getting more sleep doesn’t seem to help. Other symptoms. Abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, jaundice. Hepatitis Do this now. See your primary care doctor to rule out other illness. Best test. First, an ELISA III, or EIA, blood test, and if it is positive, confirmation with a RIBA test. If you’re positive on both, you’ve been exposed to hepatitis C. The next test is HCV/RNA by PCR (polymearase chain reaction), which can detect very small amounts of virus.
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