Are you one of the millions of Americans that suffer from chronic fatigue? As you have gotten older, you might have found yourself justifying this complete exhaustion as just a natural part of aging. Let me tell you a little secret… aging doesn’t have to include exhaustion! Our society accepts busy schedules and constant productivity as the norm, which can often leave you feeling as though you could crash at any moment. Sometimes our fatigue problem is caused by lifestyle choices. Other times, serious medical conditions could be behind your chronic exhaustion.
It’s time to take control of your own health and ask yourself “what’s going on with my body”. I want to give you the information about chronic fatigue so that you know what to look out for. I also want to tell you the best ways to naturally manage and reduce your chronic fatigue symptoms.
What is Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic fatigue isn’t like the regular fatigue you experience after a cold or lack of sleep. It causes you to become extremely fatigued to the point where you don’t and can’t do anything. It can be caused by many underlying medical issues. Unfortunately, you may experience this kind of tiredness anywhere from 6 months to years on end. The first step is trying to find the root cause of your exhaustion. Sometimes figuring out the root of the problem can lead you to find answers. Some illnesses that are known to prolong fatigue symptoms are:
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Depressive Disorder
- Lyme Disease
- Bacterial Infection
- Viral Infection
Chronic Fatigue Symptoms
Those suffering from chronic fatigue may also experience an array of symptoms beyond absolute exhaustion. Individuals with chronic fatigue have also been known to report:
- Not being able to exercise
- Dry skin
Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Different Than Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a specific medical condition where you feel this unbearable exhaustion, but no underlying medical issue is known. Besides extreme fatigue, CFS is also accompanied by at least four of the following symptoms:
- Muscle Pain
- Sore Throat
- Unrestful Sleep
- “Brain fog” including impaired short-term memory
- Joint Pain
- Tender lymph nodes in your neck or under your arms
- Exhaustion 24 hours after physical activity
Living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may have you feeling depressed because unfortunately, there are no known cures. But don’t think that way! There are natural ways you can relieve and manage your symptoms better so you can still live your life to the fullest.
How to Naturally Manage Chronic Fatigue Symptoms
While there are medications you can take to help manage your chronic fatigue symptoms, there are also natural ways that have been proven to help relieve symptoms as well. Before going straight to taking medications, give some of these alternative therapies a try first.
- Steady Light Exercise: Participate in regular light exercise (20-30 minutes/ 5 times a week) to get your body moving, but not enough to wipe you out. This can help your body in several ways including improved sleep, physical function, and self‐perceived general health. Just be sure not to overdo it and exhaust your body even more. Pick light exercises like walking, yoga, light swimming or biking.
- Reduce Stress: Stress affects our body in numerous ways from altering our gut microbiome, to affecting our mental health, to increasing the amount of inflammation in our body. Chronic stress can especially affect your energy levels. If you have a stressful job or relationships, you might want to consider how important these are to you. You might not be in the position to get a new job or part ways with unhealthy relationships, but there are ways to focus on reducing and managing your tension if you find yourself in a stressful situation. Practicing meditation or breathing exercises can significantly impact how you react to difficult situations.
- Avoid Processed Foods, Sugar and Alcohol: One major way you can help your health is by excluding unhealthy and damaging foods/drinks from your diet. Your cells, organs, and bodily processes function with the fuel given to your body. If you fuel your body with frozen meals and beer, it’s not going to respond very positively. Empty calories and harmful chemicals will just interfere with your natural functioning. After a meal, you shouldn’t feel “stuffed” and want to curl up for a nap.
- Add More Organic Whole Foods To Your Diet: Especially Fruits and Vegetables: Fuel your body with a wide array of colorful produce, which include an abundance of important antioxidants. Choose organic when you can to avoid dangerous pesticides. When you focus on eating meals comprised of whole foods, you will feel more energized and awake rather than sluggish and tired.
- Incorporate More Energizing Herbs: Ginseng, Echinacea, Ashwagandha, Green Tea, Cacao, Reishi mushrooms can all aid in wellbeing whether it be by increasing your immune system, giving you more energy or alleviating insomnia.
- Test Your Hormone Levels: Figure out if the root cause of your fatigue is from a hormone imbalance, ie. thyroid, cortisol, etc.
- Get Enough Sleep: Make sure to go to bed at a decent hour. Set a routine bedtime for yourself and try to go to bed around the same time every night. This will help your body get into a routine around the circadian rhythm (in line with the environment; the sun rising and sun setting) which has been shown to be beneficial to your health.
Give a couple of these practices a try to help reduce your fatigue symptoms. Getting in contact with an integrative physician is a great idea if you want to dive deeper and find the root cause of your fatigue. Don’t accept fatigue as your normal. This is the year to get your health and energy back. A chronic fatigue doctor can help you turn your health around!
Dr. Lisa Ballehr is an integrative and functional medicine practitioner located in Mesa, Arizona. She offers an array of services online via telemedicine. Dr. Ballehr provides personalized medicine options for each patient since every person’s body is created differently. You can take her FREE ONLINE HEALTH ASSESSMENT now to get started.