While the number one cause of fatigue is simple lack of sleep in a very busy world, fatigue can also indicate several health conditions, some of them serious.
If you’re spending plenty of time in bed and still feeling exhausted, a blood test may be able to help you determine the cause.
1. Anemia is a very common cause of fatigue, especially for women during their child-bearing years. When you menstruate, you lose a great deal of iron. Iron deficiency leads to a low red blood cell count, which in turn lowers the oxygen in your blood, leaving you feeling tired all the time. A CBC panel – Complete Blood Count – measures you levels of red and white blood cells and your platelet count.
If you’re feeling unusually tired and can’t explain why, a CBC panel can pinpoint or rule out anemia. If you are anemic, vitamins, iron supplements, and diet can make a big difference fast.
2. An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, can leave you feeling sluggish, out of sorts, and exhausted. Your thyroid is a gland located in your neck that regulates your body and affects nearly every system. When it malfunctions, the symptoms can be so widespread and diverse that you may not put them together at first. You may experience headaches, hair loss, weight gain, changes in personality, dry skin, and, of course, exhaustion.
A TSH test will determine whether your thyroid levels are causing your problems. If hypothyroidism is your problem, your doctor will prescribe replacement hormones to bring you back up to speed.
3. Urinary tract infections are common and can have no symptoms. You can have a UTI without the burning sensation during urination or the repeated urgency that you usually expect. Fatigue may be the only sign you notice, and it’s easy it write it off to allergies or other common causes.
A urine test can determine whether your fatigue is due to hidden UTI, and if it is, antibiotics can have you awake and alert in no time.
4. Diabetes is a common cause of fatigue. People with diabetes don’t have the ability to convert nutrients – glucose – into energy. If you’re fatigued, your blood sugar may be high…and you may not know you’re diabetic. Diabetes can strike anyone at any time in life.
An HbA1c test measures the level of glucose that accumulates over a three month period in your blood. If your fasting glucose levels are high, you are diabetic. Once you know, you can take steps to improve your life and lower your chances of complications.
Fatigue can be caused by allergies, dehydration, chronic illness like lupus or fibromyalgia, caffeine overload, and even heart disease. Lab tests can help you identify the cause or rule common causes out. In many cases, changes in lifestyle, like adding an exercise routine, getting more sleep, and making healthier food choices, can help relieve fatigue and leave you feeling healthier and more productive.