Tired? Don’t Blame it on Aging

by Janice Maddox
posted 050411

Keep in mind that I’m not a medical doctor and anything I say should be run by your licensed medical practitioner. I also encourage readers to use
www.mayoclinic.com as an informed resource.

Fatigue isn’t always age-related, although as we get older we are prone to assign symptoms of fatigue, forgetfulness and other maladies to aging.  In this article I discuss three common reasons for fatigue that can be mistakenly attributed to aging or depression.  One cause of fatigue is especially relevant for Sierra County residents, due to the long winters and high amounts of precipitation we’ve experienced the last two years.

I had been experiencing fatigue for a time, and accepting it as a normal part of a busy life.  I was startled one day when my arm became tired while I was chopping vegetables for dinner.  Alarmed, I thought, “Is this what aging is like!?” My next routine medical exam my doctor checked my vitamin D level as part of her normal protocol. I hadn’t mentioned fatigue.  My vitamin D level was the lowest she had ever seen. She put me on a special prescription of 50,000 micro-units of vitamin D per day for ninety days.

I mentioned my experience to a seventy-year old friend and she decided to get her levels checked.  She was no longer able to do things she once did with ease, and could only do the things she could still do for shorter periods of time due to a lack of stamina. She thought this was the result of aging, but it turned out to be a vitamin D deficiency. Rectifying this issue changed her life.

Our bodies create vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, but cloudy days, and use of sun screen limit ability to metabolize vitamin D through sun exposure. I thought I was getting adequate sun due to the fact I’m an avid hiker who puts on snow shoes to keep going in the winter and am usually outdoors every day. 

Note wherever I’m talking about fatigue, I’m including a foggy brain as a component of fatigue. Another common cause of fatigue and brain fog is inadequate consumption of water. You must make yourself drink an adequate amount of water daily for optimal health and functioning in both the short and long-term.  

I’m somebody that loves dehydrating beverages with caffeine and very much dislikes water. I actually despise drinking water.  I keep a giant glass of water with me at all times and drink water whenever I think of it and try to think of it often throughout the day.  The less water you drink, the more concentrated your urine becomes and the more concentrated it becomes, the darker the color. This can be used as a rule of thumb for monitoring your water consumption.

A third cause of fatigue is the one we all hate: Lack of adequate aerobic exercise. When we’re fatigued the last thing we want to do is exercise, but if we aren’t getting exercise, we become more and more fatigued. If we can make ourselves start, we usually feel the benefit pretty quickly and then the motivation to keep going arrives. 

Just put on your shoes.  Put on pants if you need to.  Once dressed with shoes on, you’re half way there. Open the door, step outside. Go for a walk. Walk a little faster. Try to get your heart rate up (assuming that is okay with your medical practitioner). Set a destination ahead of time and commit to reaching your destination. There will be a point half way through when you want to turn around. That passes. It will be worth it. The more you do it, the more you want to do it. Take that first step. Get a dog. Dogs have a way of making us take them for walks.

There are many medical factors that can cause fatigue, but the above three are common contributing factors.  See your doctor as needed for both fatigue and fatigue’s cousin, depression and/or irritability. Depression (which can manifest as irritability) can also be the result of an underlying medical condition, and it can be a result of fatigue. It is hard to feel an optimal level of happiness or peace when you have no energy.

To summarize:

1.      Drink water

2.      Put on pants

3.      Get a medical check- up.

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