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Why Am I So Tired?

Before you chalk up your lethargy to chronic fatigue, first consider these other possible causes.

By Alice Lesch Kelly

You're exhausted all the time. You can barely pull yourself out of bed in the morning, you're sleepy in the afternoon, and you're ready to hit the sack at sundown. Could you have chronic fatigue syndrome? It's possible, but you may want to investigate these other common ailments as well:

Iron-deficiency anemia. People with IDA feel fatigued, laconic, and cold due to a lack of iron in their blood. Iron supplements can usually take care of the problem.

Depression. Not only does the worry and anxiety that accompany depression wear you out, it may also affect the quality of your sleep, leaving you constantly exhausted. If you suspect depression, consult with a therapist, who may recommend behavioral therapy, antidepressant medication, or other healing modalities.

Mitral valve prolapse. This is a condition in which a heart valve fails to work correctly, causing a heart murmur. People with MVP may feel tired for a number of reasons, including a decrease in REM sleep, low blood volume, and excess adrenaline. For some patients, drinking plenty of water can ease symptoms by boosting blood volume, although others require medication.

Sleep disorders. Conditions like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome can interrupt sleep without sufferers even realizing they have them. Doctors treat these conditions in a variety of ways, including air pumps that aid nighttime breathing, medication, dietary changes, or massage.

Hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid slows down metabolism, which leaves sufferers feeling tired and sometimes cold, constipated, or depressed. Daily thyroid replacement pills can get metabolism back on track.

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