Sleep Disorders: Conditions like sleep apnea, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome can prevent you from obtaining quality sleep at night and result in fatigue.
Poor Nutrition: Causes here could be blood sugar imbalances, wrong amounts of macros (proteins, carbs and fats) eating poor quality, pro-inflammatory food products, dehydration and more. What you eat (and drink) can play a huge role in how you feel & function!
Nutritional Deficiencies: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients can contribute to fatigue through multiple pathways, one being the production of energy within our cells.
Movement: Being sedentary (sitting most of the day) can actually lead us to being MORE tired.
The other extreme is excessive exercise, especially high intensity or long drawn out cardio, which places more stress on the body.
Chronic Stress: Prolonged exposure to stress, whether physical, mental or emotional, can drain energy levels and contribute to fatigue.
Chronic Inflammation: Chronic inflammation involves a prolonged activation of the immune system, with immune cells releasing various inflammatory mediators. This ongoing immune response can drain energy reserves and contribute to fatigue.
Adrenal Dysfunction: Chronic stress and an overworked adrenal system can result in adrenal fatigue, characterized by persistent exhaustion.
Gut Health Imbalances: Dysfunction in gut bacteria, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), or conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can impact nutrient absorption and cause fatigue through the gut-brain axis.
Chronic Infections: Hidden infections such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Lyme disease or even mold exposure can contribute to persistent fatigue.
Medication Side Effects: Certain medications, including some antidepressants, antihistamines, or blood pressure medications, can cause fatigue as a side effect.
Mental Health Conditions: Conditions like depression, anxiety, or chronic stress can significantly impact energy levels and lead to fatigue.
It’s important to note that fatigue can have multiple underlying causes as well.
Discovering the root causes of fatigue is crucial for creating an effective treatment plan. In functional medicine, a comprehensive approach is taken, considering various factors that contribute to this common issue.
Let’s explore some lab tests that I commonly use as a functional medicine practitioner in order to get to the root cause:
Complete Blood Count (CBC): Measures red and white blood cells, helping identify anemia or infections that may contribute to fatigue.
Thyroid Function Tests: Assess thyroid hormone levels to detect imbalances that can affect energy levels and lead to fatigue.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP): Evaluates electrolytes, kidney/liver function, glucose, and protein levels, revealing metabolic issues that can impact fatigue.
Vitamin and Mineral Levels: Testing for deficiencies in key nutrients like vitamin D, B12, iron, and magnesium uncovers potential imbalances contributing to fatigue.
Adrenal Function Testing: Salivary cortisol tests assess adrenal gland function, helping understand stress responses and their impact on energy levels.
Inflammatory Markers: Testing for markers like CRP or ESR identifies chronic inflammation that may be associated with fatigue.
Understanding the underlying causes of fatigue empowers us to find targeted solutions!