Do you dread the sound of your morning alarm and struggle to get up? Or do you find yourself reaching for coffee throughout the day just to keep going? Feeling tired all the time can have a serious impact on your life and mental health. It can also be a sign of a medical condition you might not be aware of.
If you regularly feel like you don’t have enough energy, make an appointment to speak to your doctor about it. Below are a few questions you can ask your doctor to help figure out what might be causing your fatigue.
1. CAN YOU CHECK MY THYROID FUNCTION?
Your thyroid gland is located in your neck. It produces a few different hormones that influence your metabolism, growth and body temperature. Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, and it can lead to tiredness as your metabolism slows down due to low hormone levels.
There are a few different tests your doctor can order to check your thyroid. The easiest one is a blood test to determine your thyroid hormone levels. If your doctor finds your levels to be too low, she may order further tests to diagnose the problem, such as a biopsy or ultrasound.
2. DO I HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY OR INTOLERANCE?
A food allergy causes an immune system response that can affect various organs in your body. An allergic reaction to food can be severe and life-threatening, but it may also cause less noticeable issues in your body that simply leave you feeling lethargic.
A food intolerance, also called a food sensitivity, is somewhat different than an allergy and often has less pronounced symptoms. A food intolerance can be caused by a variety of conditions that impair digestion, such as irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune disease or diabetes. Regardless of the cause, a food intolerance can impact your energy levels as your body struggles to process the problem foods.
Food allergies are easier to diagnose than intolerances. There are tests that can measure your immune response to a food, such as a skin prick test or blood tests. These can help determine if you have an allergy or not. Your doctor will likely refer you to an allergist for these tests.
Whereas, food intolerances can be more difficult to diagnose because they’re caused by many different underlying conditions. Your doctor can still help you find ways to recognize a food intolerance, such as keeping a food journal or trying an elimination diet.
3. AM I GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP?
This may seem like an obvious question, but getting a good night’s rest isn’t only about the number of hours under the sheets. If you’re getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night and still feel tired all the time, you may have another condition that’s disrupting your sleep.
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is briefly interrupted repeatedly throughout the night. These disruptions can lead to low oxygen levels in your blood and feeling tired and groggy during the day. Sleep apnea affects more than 18 million American adults, as well as 2 to 3 percent of all children, but a lot of people don’t realize they have the condition until they get it properly tested and diagnosed by a doctor.
It’s also good to ask your doctor about other conditions that could cause sleep problems. For example, hormonal changes that occur during menopause can disrupt sleep, as well as heart failure, kidney disease and asthma.
4. CAN YOU CHECK MY IRON LEVELS?
Anemia is a condition where you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to all of your body’s tissues. This can leave you feeling tired and generally weak. Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. Your body needs iron to produce red blood cells, so your body simply can’t produce enough when you’re low in iron.
A routine blood test can tell your doctor if you have anemia or not. If you do, they will likely recommend iron supplementation and discuss foods to include in your diet that are high in iron, such as legumes, leafy green vegetables, dried fruit, meats and seeds.
5. DO I HAVE DIABETES?
Fatigue is actually the most common symptom of diabetes. Your pancreas produces insulin, which helps your cells absorb glucose from the food you eat. Diabetes occurs when something impairs your body’s production or absorption of insulin, then glucose stays in your blood rather than being absorbed. This can starve your cells of glucose and energy, leaving you feeling sluggish.
Your doctor can order a few different types of blood tests to diagnose diabetes. You may need to fast for a time before the test, so ask your doctor exactly what test they’re giving you and how you need to prepare.
6. AM I DEPRESSED?
A lack of energy and motivation can also be linked to depression. We all feel sad at times, but if you regularly experience sadness and negative thoughts that you can’t shake off, it would be helpful to speak to your doctor about them. It’s estimated about 50 percent of people suffering from depressive disorders remain undiagnosed, which can seriously impair your life and health.
Many factors can influence the onset of depression, such as stressful life events, genetics or medical conditions. Your doctor can do a depression screening test with you to help with a diagnosis. A depression screening test is essentially a questionnaire that reviews your current emotions, sleeping patterns, appetite, energy levels and other key areas that can signal a potential problem.
7. CAN YOU CHECK IF I HAVE AN INFECTION?
Various infectious diseases, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, Lyme disease or herpes virus, can cause fatigue as your body fights the infection. Many infectious diseases can be diagnosed with lab tests to find out the pathogen you may be dealing with. Then your doctor can determine the best ways to treat that particular infection and get your energy back.