TIRED? MAYBE IT’S NOT SLEEP RE­LATED

Best Health - - CONTENTS - DR. AFSHAN ZAHEDI is an en­docri­nol­o­gist at Women’s Col­lege Hos­pi­tal, wom­en­shealth­mat­ters.ca

THE DOC­TOR SAYS… FA­TIGUE IS A COM­MON

A symp­tom as­so­ci­ated with many con­di­tions. Since it doesn’t al­ways have a clear med­i­cal cause, it can some­times go un­der­in­ves­ti­gated. If you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fa­tigue with no clear causes or life­style changes, you should see your health­care provider for a com­plete med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion – of­ten re­ferred to as a “workup” – to find out more.

Fa­tigue can be as­so­ci­ated with underactive and overactive thyroid disease, usu­ally ap­pear­ing with more ad­vanced cases. An­other pos­si­ble cause of fa­tigue is ane­mia, which is a de­fi­ciency of red blood cells or he­mo­glo­bin. But fa­tigue can also be due to other med­i­cal con­di­tions, such as in­fec­tions, in­flam­ma­tory con­di­tions, chronic dis­eases and menopause. In many of these cases, you need to be screened by your physi­cian to fig­ure out the cause.

Weight gain is an­other symp­tom as­so­ci­ated with a num­ber of med­i­cal con­di­tions, in­clud­ing thyroid disease, al­though it isn’t as com­mon. With an underactive thyroid, also known as hy­pothy­roidism, your body’s me­tab­o­lism and en­ergy con­sump­tion slow down, which can re­sult in grad­ual weight gain. Other com­mon causes of weight gain in­clude a sig­nif­i­cant de­crease in daily ac­tiv­ity lev­els and menopause. It can also be the side ef­fect of cer­tain med­i­ca­tions. If you’re at a ge­net­i­cally higher risk of obe­sity due to your fam­ily his­tory, you could be gain­ing weight from any of the above-men­tioned con­di­tions.

In cases of fa­tigue or weight gain, you should let your doc­tor know what you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and when it started. It’s also im­por­tant to tell your doc­tor if you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fa­tigue and weight gain at the same time. Your doc­tor may rec­om­mend a blood test to check your hor­mone, vi­ta­min and min­eral lev­els. The first test for as­sess­ing your thyroid func­tion is a thyroid-stim­u­lat­ing hor­mone (TSH) mea­sure­ment through a blood test. Hy­pothy­roidism is usu­ally treat­able, and if symp­toms like fa­tigue and weight gain are re­lated to an un­der­func­tion­ing thyroid, they should im­prove in two or three months with treat­ment. In the case of ane­mia, you would do a com­plete blood count (CBC) to check your lev­els of he­mo­glo­bin and fer­ritin and make sure that you’re not iron de­fi­cient.

One thing to re­mem­ber is that, regardless of the cause of fa­tigue or weight gain, ex­er­cise is of­ten an ef­fec­tive treat­ment. As al­ways, if you’re think­ing of start­ing a new ex­er­cise reg­i­men, be sure to speak to your health­care provider.

FA­TIGUE CAN BE AS­SO­CI­ATED WITH UNDERACTIVE AND OVERACTIVE THYROID. IT CAN ALSO BE DUE TO IN­FLAM­MA­TORY CON­DI­TIONS, CHRONIC DIS­EASES OR MENOPAUSE.

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