When you’re tired of being tired

If you feel like you never get enough sleep these days — or if you get plenty of sleep but still feel tired — you are not alone. As many as two-fifths of Americans report feeling tired on most days of the week.

But what could be causing your fatigue?

Well, let’s first divide tiredness into two categories. There’s the tired you feel when you’re crazy busy and running from home to school to work to school to afterschool activities to home and back again. In the chaos we call life, it can be difficult to get the amount of sleep and rest needed to function at our best.

Then there’s the tired that you feel even when you’re taking care of yourself, doing restful activities, and getting regular, quality sleep. This type of fatigue is a lingering feeling of tiredness that limits what you’re able to accomplish.

Let’s explore a few underlying factors that could be behind your fatigue.

Fatigue factor: Allergies

When you think of allergies, including the seasonal allergies that plague the Chattanooga area for much of the year, you probably think of a runny nose, sneezing, and swollen, red eyes. But fatigue is often a common byproduct of allergies, too, since they impact your immune system.

This occurs for two reasons — the allergies themselves and the medications often taken to control them. You want to manage your allergies effectively to limit their effects, but many of the antihistamines often used to treat allergies can have a sedating effect, causing drowsiness.

Talk with your doctor about treatment options for your allergies that will allow you to stay alert and energized.

Fatigue factor: Anemia

Anemia, which occurs when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, is common in the United States, particularly among women in their childbearing years.

The condition causes the heart and body to have to work harder to move oxygen to the body’s tissues, which leads to feelings of extreme fatigue.

Anemia has many causes, but iron deficiency is a common one. If you don’t eat much red meat (or any at all), you may be at an increased risk.

Your doctor can test your iron levels and, if necessary, prescribe a diet enriched with iron or iron supplements.

Fatigue factor: Thyroid issues

When the thyroid goes haywire, the rest of the body tends to follow. There are two main thyroid disorders — hyperthyroidism (where the body produces too much thyroid hormone) and hypothyroidism (where the body produces too little thyroid hormones).

Both types can cause fatigue. Because hypothyroidism causes the body’s functions to slow down, extreme fatigue is common. But, on the other hand, because hyperthyroidism causes the body to speed up, difficulty sleeping is often a side effect.

If you can’t seem to pinpoint a cause behind your fatigue, talk with your doctor about whether your thyroid might be to blame. He or she can test your thyroid levels and offer a diagnosis.

Fatigue factor: Anxiety or depression

With both anxiety or depression, extreme fatigue can be common. In many cases, actually, a complete lack of energy can be the first sign that something isn’t quite right.

Both conditions negatively affect your sleep and sleep habits, which can lead to persistent feelings of tiredness.

Talk with your doctor about what you’re feeling. A variety of treatment options are available, and can help you regain a more normal sleep schedule.

Fatigue factor: A lack of physical activity

This one isn’t a health condition, but it nonetheless impacts your health in a big way. You might think that exercise would actually worsen your fatigue, but the opposite is true.

Incorporating regular physical activity into your life will help boost your energy levels and your mood — even if you feel fatigued.

In fact, research has shown that regular, low-intensity exercise, like walking, can boost energy levels in those with fatigue.

Tired of feeling tired? Talk with your doctor about whether an underlying medical condition could be causing your fatigue. Find a doctor here.