4 Common But Often Undiagnosed Causes Of Fatigue

Integrative & Functional Medicine Physician By Alejandra Carrasco, M.D.
Integrative & Functional Medicine Physician
Alejandra Carrasco, M.D., is an integrative and functional medicine physician, best-selling author of Bloom, and founder of Nourish Medicine, a root-cause resolution integrative and functional medicine practice in Austin, Texas. She received her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Did you know that fatigue affects millions of people around the world? There are many reasons for developing fatigue, but these are the top four reasons my patients present with fatigue in my practice.

If you suffer from fatigue and you are having a tough time getting to the root cause, please work with a functional medicine practitioner or integrative physician to get the to bottom of it. Don't allow yourself to get passed along in the system!

1. Iron Deficiency Anemia

There are many factors that can increase your risk of iron deficiency anemia, including celiac disease, parasitic infection, eating a vegan diet, and having a heavy periods. Aside from fatigue, some other common diagnostic factors of iron deficiency anemia are cravings for ice, clay or dirt; thinning, flattening, and spooning of the fingernails; hair loss; and restless leg syndrome. Have your doctor check a CBC, ferritin, and iron studies.

2. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism affects millions upon millions of people around the world and is grossly under diagnosed. The way in which our bodies create thyroid hormone is complicated, and there are many places along the pathway that can cause problems. You could even develop an autoimmune disease that affects your thyroid. Aside from fatigue, if you suffer from weakness, cold sensitivity, lethargy, constipation, weight gain, muscle aches, dry skin, irregular periods, swollen eyelids, or thinning hair, then you should get checked for hypothyroidism. Have your doctor check your TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, TPO antibodies, and thyroglobulin antibodies.

3. Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic right now! Our current lifestyle of being indoors all day long and wearing loads of sunscreen when we're outdoors is contributing to this problem. Vitamin D is used in hundreds of functions in our body — it regulates and controls genes, modulates our immune system, and plays a large role in energy. Have your doctor check your 25-OH vitamin D levels. The optimal amount is 45 to 65 ng/ml, and in some cases, even higher levels are appropriate. If you need to supplement, choose a vitamin D3 supplement, and work closely with your doctor to monitor your levels.

4. Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities often manifest as fatigue in many of my patients. In my practice, the most common culprits are gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and nuts. If you suspect that you have a food sensitivity, consider doing an elimination diet for 4-6 weeks, then reintroduce the eliminated foods one at time, three days apart and observe your body's reactions. Otherwise work with your doctor and consider ordering IgG food sensitivity testing.

Again, these are just four common causes of fatigue — there are many other reasons why your energy levels are low. If you or someone you know hasn't been able to figure out why they're fatigued, I can't express how important it is to work with a provider who will continue to look for the root cause.

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