Feeling tired all the time can affect your enjoyment of life, your work performance, your relationships, and it could be a symptom of a serious health condition, so it is a big deal. There are ways your doctor can help to determine what's causing the problem.
Put a Name on It
The first thing a physician will want to do is determine the cause, because knowing it will give you some comfort, and of course, the cause will also determine treatment. Your age and general appearance, and other symptoms will yield some clues to determine what testing would be appropriate.
Discuss Your Habits and Lifestyle
Your doctor will ask about:
The number of hours of sleep you get each night and how rested you feel when you get up. Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia can affect the quality of your sleep. Sleep apnea and other sleep related disorders can also affect you, so a sleep study may be ordered.
Your exercise routine. Too much or too little can affect your energy levels.
Your dietary habits. Poor nutrition can deplete your body of vital nutrients and not give you the fuel you need, so you will naturally feel lousy.
Your job and the hours you work. Shift work could be affecting you more than you realize, and your physician can give you suggestions and prescribe medication to deal with it.
Determine If a Deficiency is to Blame
A nutritional deficiency may be the culprit, so you will have your blood drawn to determine your hematocrit level. This will determine if you have anemia or too much iron in your blood. Your blood may also be tested to detect a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Rule Out Heart Disease
Fatigue can be a symptom of heart or circulatory problems that can include a mechanical failure (valve issues), an infection of the heart, a congenital defect, or other heart issue. Poor blood circulation from heart disease prevents your body cells from getting the oxygen and nutrients they need, which will make you feel tired. If your doctor suspects heart issues he/she will order a ECG or EKG (Electrocardiogram), and possibly some other cardiac related tests.
Discover a Metabolic Cause
A food intolerance such as celiac disease will affect your energy level, and you may be advised to go on a supervised elimination diet to determine what foods are causing you trouble.
Diabetes and hypoglycemia both affect energy levels, so your physician may have you take a blood glucose tolerance test that could take from 3 to 6 hours to determine your blood sugar levels after ingesting a glucose solution. You will need to fast for 12 hours before coming in for the test.
Test for a UTI
Your doctor may suspect you have a urinary tract infection (UTI) and you will need to give a urine sample for that. You will need an antibiotic to treat one but chronic infections may require you to have a renewable prescription for antibiotics to take whenever you experience recurrent symptoms.
Rule Out Glandular Fever
Mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein Barr virus and young people are especially susceptible to it. Testing can involve a blood sample and/or a throat swab (to rule out a bacterial infection). While the disease itself has to run its course, you may be given some medications to relieve some of the symptoms.
Come to a Conclusion
Other things that can cause fatigue include:
Dehydration – you will need to drink more water daily.
Stress and feelings of being overwhelmed – chronic stress is known to cause other significant health problems, so this should be addressed promptly.
- Depression – you may be referred to a therapist for counseling, and your doctor can prescribe antidepressant drug therapy. These two things together can be very effective.
So, to recap, knowing the cause can give you some validation for the way you feel. It will also enable your physician to provide you with therapeutic coping strategies and treatment. For more information, talk to a practice like Valley Medical Care.