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How Hidden Health Concerns Wear You Out continued...

●Your guy snores.
Having a partner who saws wood can cost you an hour of sleep a night, according to one Mayo Clinic study. Next time his snorting and snuffling jerks you out of slumber, nudge him to roll over on his side, suggests Charles Kimmelman, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Cornell University's Weill Medical College in New York City. One reason: Back-sleeping can cause the uvula (the small mass of tissue that hangs at the back of the throat) to fall back and block the airway. A saline or prescription nasal spray may also help relieve any congestion. If these measures don't work, he may have sleep apnea, a sleep breathing disorder that causes snoring and pauses in breathing. Diagnosis sometimes involves spending the night at a sleep center so machines can monitor his breathing; wearing a special mask over his nose while he sleeps may help open his breathing passages.

● You've got undiagnosed heart disease.
About 70 percent of women who have had heart attacks experienced fatigue for about a month beforehand, according to one University of Arkansas study. You're not too young for this killer, either: "I've seen plenty of women in their 30s and 40s who have had heart attacks, many of whom told me they couldn't even walk up steps without feeling exhausted, but figured they were just getting old," explains study author Jean C. McSweeney, Ph.D. Other warning signs? Sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion, and anxiety. "If you have any of these symptoms, especially if you have known risk factors for heart disease, see your doctor," says McSweeney.

●You're mildly anemic.
About 12 percent of women under 50 have anemia or deficient levels of iron, a mineral key to producing hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that transports energizing oxygen throughout the body. Anemia is typically diagnosed with a complete blood count test, which measures circulating hemoglobin levels. But even if your numbers are normal, you may still be anemic. "Have your doctor also test your ferritin levels, which measure your body's iron stores," says Northrup. Anything below 12 nanograms per milliliter signals anemia. Your doctor will probably advise eating more iron-rich foods, such as lean beef and dried fruit. But don't take an iron supplement before first asking your doctor, since too-high levels can damage your liver.

● You're hypothyroid.
One in 10 women have hypothyroidism, or low thyroid hormone levels - and about half don't know it, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. "Thyroid hormones control metabolic rate, so when your cells aren't getting enough, your body's processes start to slow down, leaving you sluggish and prone to weight gain," says Mark Wiesen, M.D., director of endocrinology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Your doctor can check hormone levels in your blood with a thyroid-stimulating hormone test; low levels are treatable with a synthetic hormone, which you may have to take for the rest of your life. Another 10 percent of women experience postpartum thyroiditis, a decline in thyroid levels that frequently normalizes on its own over time.

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