MAYBE IT’S JUST LOW BLOOD PRESSURE!
Using her own life experience, Dorothy Adamiak, ND, discovers the unlikely culprit behind her own chronic fatigue.
I used to have chronic fatigue. Mornings were a drag. I was getting up half asleep, and after walking around like a zombie for a few hours, I’d be back in bed before sunset. My life was pretty much divided between unproductive work and insatiable sleep.
Ihated winter. January chilled me to the bone and I could never warm up. Germs must have liked me because I was hit with colds and sore throats regularly. It seemed I could never emerge victorious from battle with a virus. I felt I was defenseless. Did I even have an immune system? Judging by the amount of antibiotics I was devouring, thought not.
Doctors and pharmacists were kind to me. I was their regular, a good customer, and a non-complainer. I was proactive, and I always bought something with hopes I would feel better, whether it was an antibiotic, energy booster, or miracle herbal tonic.
My blood work was normal. There was no sign of anemia, thyroid disorder, or any other energydraining pathology. I was pronounced healthy. It was comforting to know that my health was not in danger, but the diagnosis of “healthy” did nothing to improve my sleeping hours or reduce antibiotic doses. Then my doctor suggested antidepressants— maybe they would help?
Did I just hear my doctor call me over-sensitive, emotionally vulnerable, and mentally unwell? I never thought anybody would call me hysterical, thus I refused to be diagnosed as such. This was exactly the moment I decided to take matters into
my own hands. I was going to doctor my own body from now on. No, seriously. That was the plan.
It took many years, but eventually I hung my doctor diploma up on the wall. The journey was long, but it was worth every effort and opened my eyes. Not only did I discover the causes behind my own chronic fatigue, I also realized that the majority of “heathy” people I knew did not really feel that well at all.
We live in a tired society. Every year, there are 2.5 million Google searches for “fatigue” and half of a million for “chronic fatigue.” We are exhausted. Unfortunately, besides Red Bull, supercaffeinated java in the morning, and a cream cake in the afternoon, there don’t seem to be many real solutions. Even top-notch doctors have empty shelves in the energy-boosting department. Is there any hope left?
While searching for the cause of my own chronic fatigue, I have done many experiments and made many observations on myself and on my persevering patients. Following my educated expectations, fatigue correlated with specific nutritional deficiencies, alcohol abuse, stress, exercise habits, as well as general health. But there were a few discoveries that surprised me. The biggest one was a strong relationship between blood pressure and energy levels.
There is very little talk about low blood pressure as a cause for fatigue, yet it is not hard to see why this correlation exists. The heart pumps blood. Blood carries red blood cells which, in turn, carry oxygen. Once delivered to cells, oxygen is converted to energy—an excellent fatigue antidote. The harder the heart pumps, the faster the red blood cells circulate, and because of that, more oxygen is delivered and more energy is produced. This is why vigorous exercise is always accompanied by faster heart beats. The heart simply speeds up to accommodate extra energy needs during exertion.
The opposite is true as well. Lower blood pressure delivers less oxygen, and the body produces less energy. This has no consequences when blood pressure matches the oxygen requirements, but expect a cascade of negative effects when the heart lags behind its vital workload.
An under-oxygenated body will try to self-remedy the bad situation. Yawning is a good example. Yawning forces more air into lungs. This is an automatic safety valve in case the body falls into a low oxygen zone. But not everyone has a yawning fatigue. Many feel tired, yet are far from falling asleep. If you are one of those, don’t wait for yawning. It may never come. Look for other signs of sluggish circulation. Low blood pressure is a chameleon. It can disguise itself as a multitude of different symptoms like: • Apparent dullness: slow thinking, difficulty in understanding reading material, lack of comprehension • Unsteadiness: mental haze, wooziness,
light-headedness • Anxiety: lack of zest for life, fearfulness, lack of confidence, lack of motivation • Physical weakness: fatigue, dislike
for exertion, apparent laziness • Depression: hopelessness, loss of
interest, changes in appetite • Frequent headaches: dull pressing
headaches, not the throbbing variety • Weird sensations in the head: ear
pressure and fullness, humming in ears • Poor circulation: cold hands and feet,
sensitivity to cold, fungal infection • Aesthetic difficulties: poor hair quality,
hair loss, hair dullness, fragile nails
How did you score on the self-assessment? Did you find at least a partial semblance of your symptoms there? If yes, chances are you have low blood pressure, even if your doctor is telling you otherwise. With health practitioners looking out for high rather than low numbers, hypotension is frequently overlooked. Low numbers are not life threatening, so they are usually not mentioned to a patient as a concern. After all, nobody dies of low blood pressure, just high blood pressure. Fatigue does not kill, just makes you sleep more and live less.
My low blood pressure numbers weren’t discovered by my family doctor either. All I heard was “your blood pressure is good,” so I trusted his words. But the reality was different. My blood pressure numbers were low-normal at
his office, but low-low at home. I realized that only after I bought my own blood pressure monitor and started checking myself. My findings were surprising.
From then on, I made suggestions to all my patients: Always ask for test results expressed in numbers, not in opinions. Better yet, get your own blood pressure cuff and check at different times to discover your own blood pressure pattern. Yes, blood pressure pattern, because despite popular belief, good blood pressure is never 120/80 mmHg, but swings from hypertensive to hypotensive zones when life demands it. Healthy blood pressure varies and testing it once at the doctor’s office is insufficient.
There is no need for desperation. Your standard blood pressure monitor will be able to assist. Just a few random checks and you will be amazed that your blood pressure has a life of its own. Don’t be surprised if the numbers go through waves of gentle highs and lows, only to suddenly shock you with unexpected spikes and dips. Fluctuations are to be expected, but your job is to watch out for frequently repeating low numbers as they are tied to lower energy.
Discovering reasons behind fatigue does not have to be a daunting task. Sluggish circulation can be measured. Go ahead, play with a blood pressure cuff and discover your numbers for yourself.
Blood pressure behavior is not a random phenomenon, but an extremely valuable health marker. Blood pressure patterns can reveal many underlying causes of fatigue including adrenal exhaustion, food sensitivities, anemia, nervous system failure, POTS, hypoglycemia, or hardening of arteries. You just need to know the patterns to look for.
ALL I HEARD WAS “YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE IS GOOD,” SO I TRUSTED HIS WORDS. BUT THE REALITY WAS DIFFERENT.