Have you felt tired lately? Most people would answer yes. But have you felt tired lately? So tired that it was difficult to start and continue your day? That your normal desire for a 2pm nap became a need for a 10am nap? So tired that you even went to the doctor to discuss your level of fatigue? That’s where I come in. And the workup and results can be surprising.
Let’s start with some possible sources of fatigue, no matter the age or gender, which can be pretty easy to identify. Are you using your cell phone/tablet/television within 2 hours of bedtime? If so, that’s an easy fix. Read a book instead haha! Are you drinking caffeine within 4 hours of bedtime? If so, switch to decaf! Are you getting at least 6-8 hours of solid sleep per night? If not, go for it! Most adults need about 7 hours of sleep to have a wonderfully productive day the next day. If one of the above criteria apply to you, then congrats! It’s an easy fix. Now get some rest and read the rest of this blog tomorrow.
Sometimes, it’s hypothyroidism, anemia, low Vitamin D, or low Vitamin B12, all of which can be caught in routine bloodwork by your primary care provider.
However, a lot of my patients do not fit into these categories. Let’s start with men. Men who report fatigue don’t want to admit that there may be erectile dysfunction and depression too. And if you’re one of these men, you should have your testosterone level checked. If it’s low, you’ll receive proper treatment to replace this normal male hormone and you’ll be feeling better in no time!
Now off to my favorite topic: Women’s health. When women report an unusual increase of fatigue…drum roll please…it’s sometimes heart disease. Yep, heart disease. A woman walks into my office with complaints of “feeling tired” or “not feeling like myself” over the last few days. Her previous routine bloodwork was normal. She doesn’t really have any other concerns. Upon further investigation, after I ask about possible symptoms of various organ systems of the body from head to toe, she reports some nausea on and off, but she’s never had reflux before. She’s not pregnant either. So how in the world did I come up with heart disease as my diagnosis?
An EKG. A simple machine in my office that shows me how well the electrical pattern of your heart is. And from this, oh my goodness, I have caught many women that were in the middle of a heart attack, were about to have a heart attack, or that some underlying heart disease was caught and treated by the cardiologist.
From my experience, women report fatigue and nausea more than chest pain when it comes to their heart.
If you’re feeling more tired than usual, please, please, please go to your primary care provider and get a full work-up. Don’t simply tough it out and drink more caffeine because there may be something off. Maybe it’s a low Vitamin D level. But maybe…just maybe…it’s underlying heart disease.
My prayer as a primary care provider: Thank you, God. Thank you for providing me with the patience and the listening skills necessary to hear my patients’ needs. Thank you for my medical training so that I can recognize when fatigue isn’t just fatigue. And thank you, for trusting me enough to take care of these patients from day to day. I pray for good decisions and I pray for the well-being of their health overall. Amen.