Tired All the Time? Discover the Mystery Behind Chronic Fatigue

Fatigue can hit any of us, especially after a long and busy day. However, if you’re always feeling tired, even by midday or early evening, it may be a sign of a more serious issue. In this article, we will dive deep into the topic of chronic fatigue, chronic low energy, fibromyalgia, mitochondrial dysfunction, and how you can get back to feeling good and energetic.

Defining Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

When fatigue reaches severe levels, it is known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The causes of CFS are not well understood by the medical community. Here are the diagnostic criteria for CFS, beginning with persistent fatigue for more than six months:

  • Short-term memory loss/poor concentration
  • Sore throat with enlarged, painful neck or axillary lymph nodes
  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Pain of multiple joints without swelling or redness
  • Headaches
  • Inability to get restful sleep
  • Feeling of exhaustion for more than 24 hours after physical/mental exercise

CFS is a combination of fibromyalgia symptoms (muscle pain, joint pain) and extreme physical and/or mental fatigue. It affects an estimated 1 million to 4 million Americans, and there are no specific tests or treatments for it. While some people with CFS may start feeling better over time, most remain impaired for many years.

There are no safe prescription drugs to treat CFS; treatment is only possible for the symptoms. It’s essential to identify and treat any underlying conditions that could be causing CFS-like symptoms, such as chronic illness, connective tissue disorders, depression, sleep disorders, low hormone function, or infections. Medications for other conditions should also be taken into account.

Chronic Low Energy and “Pre-CFS”

While CFS is rare and debilitating, a similar but more common condition exists: chronic low energy, which is on the other end of the CFS spectrum. This condition involves feeling fatigued without explanation, often preferring to rest during the day or sleep in every morning. Other signs include prolonged muscle pain after exercise, brain fog, low ambition, feeling older than your age, and a poor immune system.

Understanding the factors contributing to chronic low energy is critical in restoring healthy energy levels.

What’s Behind Low Energy?

Consider the last time you felt more tired than expected. Was there a common factor? Often, it can be as simple as identifying the foods consumed a few hours before the fatigue hit. For some people, eating certain foods, like refined sugar, can result in total-body fatigue. There are lab tests available to pinpoint which foods may be responsible for low energy and other symptoms.

Mood also heavily influences our energy levels. Acute mood changes or chronic low mood can cause a significant drop in energy. On a cellular level, energy is produced by mitochondria, which metabolize the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats we consume. However, impaired mitochondrial function can result in cellular damage, chronic disease, and accelerated aging.

Mitochondrial function relies on micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Consuming these nutrients can help protect against mitochondrial damage. Be cautious not to let insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes impact your health, as these conditions reduce mitochondrial function in brain cells, resulting in dementia.

Exercise is another way to improve mitochondrial function. Strength training and aerobic exercise can help strengthen mitochondrial function and improve cellular energy production.

In order to regain your energy, it’s essential to focus on identifying and addressing the root causes of your persistent low energy. By doing so, you’ll be well on your way to feeling good once again and enjoying optimal vitality.