Feeling drained and sapped of pep? It could be your hormones playing havoc with your health.
When one of my patients at Beaufort Memorial Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists complains about feeling fatigued, I’m eager to get to the bottom of what’s making them feel so exhausted.
|Marlena Mattingly, M.D.|
Created in the endocrine glands, hormones control most of our major bodily functions. These powerful chemical messengers travel through our bloodstream to every organ and tissue in our body, influencing everything from fat storage to energy levels.
The problems start when they get out of balance. Even a little change in your hormones can have considerable effects on your well-being.
Feeling run down? The primary suspect is your thyroid, the gland in the front of your neck. It makes the hormones that control the way your body uses energy. As the master of our metabolism, it converts the fuel in the food you eat into the energy needed to power everything you do, from moving to thinking.
If your thyroid gland isn’t pumping out enough hormones, you could develop hypothyroidism, a condition that causes your metabolism to slow down. Symptoms include dry skin, weight gain and fatigue. Hypothyroidism can be treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone that will restore your hormonal balance and get you back to feeling like your old self.
Sometimes your thyroid can produce too much hormone. This is called hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid gland can cause you to feel lethargic by raising your blood calcium level. Treatment for this condition can include radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid medications, beta blockers or surgery. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment for you based on your age, physical condition and the underlying cause of your hyperthyroidism.
Your menstrual cycle and the hormonal changes that come with it can also leave you feeling tuckered out and without the energy to carry on your usual routine. Some simple lifestyle changes in diet, exercise and stress management may help reduce the symptoms of PMS. Start by reducing the amount of caffeine, sugar and sodium in your diet, drinking less alcohol and getting plenty of sleep.
If you have heavy periods, you may be suffering from anemia, another serious energy-drainer. Expectant mothers are also susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia because of increased blood supply demands during pregnancy.
And then there’s menopause, that dreaded change of life responsible for hormonal chaos. If the night sweats, hot flashes and insomnia aren’t bad enough, menopause can also cause fatigue. A dramatic decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels can disturb your sleep cycle, leaving you dog-tired.
But it may not be your hormones at all. It could be today’s fast-paced lifestyle that’s to blame for your fatigue.
It’s natural to feel exhausted if you’re burning the candle at both ends. Working, taking care of kids, preparing meals, doing laundry and cleaning house would wear anyone out. With so much to do, you may find you don’t have time to get in the recommended eight hours of sleep. The stress you feel trying to juggle all your responsibilities only exacerbates the problem.
Here are some tips to regain control of your life and get you on a healthier track:
- Take care of the most important things and don’t worry about every little chore that you can’t complete.
- Find a physical activity you enjoy and do it daily. Exercise helps relieve stress and can boost your energy level.
- Skip the junk food and go for the fruits and veggies. A healthy diet helps your body function better.
- Relax before you go to bed. Turn off the computer, put up your cell phone and read a book or meditate to get you ready for some quality zzz’s.
Dr. Marlena Mattingly is a board-eligible OB-GYN with Beaufort Memorial Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists. She can be reached at (843) 522-7820.