What are some of the underlying causes of fatigue?
With fatigue being a non-specific symptom that many people experience sometimes on an ongoing basis for many years. Assessing what the root cause is for the drop in energy is really important as there are often many factors that contribute. We operate in a world where we want there to be one direct trigger (cause and effect) but in most clinical causes there is a combination of the following.
Stress is a daily reality for most of us. Deadlines for work, family and social responsibilities can leave us feeling constantly ‘wired’. Our body responds to these ongoing demands by releasing stress chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol, which are responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ stress response. For some people, ongoing stress can eventually disrupt their normal stress response. Poor
Sleep is a vital pillar and the importance of consistent, good quality sleep cannot be overstated. Getting less than the recommended eight hours per night is associated with reduced concentration, memory and work performance, as well as contributing to mood disturbances
Dehydration is an extremely common, but often overlooked, cause of fatigue. Dehydration impairs your body’s ability to regulate its temperature and deliver nutrients and oxygen to your cells. Even mild dehydration can impair your mental and physical performance
Blood Sugar Disturbances and the impacts of insulin resistance on our body. Under certain conditions (e.g. infrequent meals or eating a diet high in sugary, refined foods), your cells can become resistant to insulin, and glucose cannot enter your cells efficiently. A key sign of this is a noticeable slump in energy that hits in the mid-afternoon
Hormones such as thyroid hormone, testosterone and adrenal hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA-s) can all influence energy production. Imbalances within the production of these hormones can manifest in different ways. For example, low thyroid hormone can cause weight gain, hair loss, menstrual irregularity and low energy, whilst hormonal changes, which occur with ageing (i.e. menopause and andropause) are also associated with fatigue.
Poor immune function increases your risk of infections and is directly linked with fatigue. Allergy, another type of immune dysfunction, involves inappropriate activation of the immune system. Your body attempts to control infections and allergy through the process of inflammation, which, over prolonged periods, can negatively affect cellular energy production
Mood Disturbances directly influences our mental wellbeing, and feeling fatigued can cause us to feel more sensitive, irritated, or unmotivated. Conversely, these feelings can influence how energetic we feel when it comes to facing daily challenges, which contributes to our experience of mental and physical fatigue
High oxidative stress load directly impact our mitochondria the ‘power generators’. Found within each cell, they are responsible for creating energy from the nutrients we consume through the diet. However, poor diet or lifestyle habits can create free radicals, which can damage the structure of mitochondria and limit their ability to produce energy
Inflammation can be caused by poor diet, being overweight, infections, allergies, and exposure to environmental toxins (e.g. pesticides). Left unmanaged, prolonged bouts of inflammation can cause changes in mood and/or physical function, negatively influencing energy levels and overall wellbeing. Sometimes inflammation can be self-perpetuating, and lead to a multi-system, multi symptom state of poor health, resulting in very severe fatigue
Toxic Burden whether from personal care, cleaning products, pesticides or heavy metals, exposure to toxins is ubiquitous in industrialized societies. Microbe imbalances in our gut can be another source of toxin exposure. This can cause an increase in inflammation and oxidative stress.
Addressing the underlying factor and key points is what I as a naturopath can do really well and narrow down the timeframe to getting you feeling like you have the energy to do the things you love.