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Get More Energy!

How Hidden Health Concerns Wear You Out continued...

● You've got restless legs syndrome (RLS).
Up to 10 percent of women suffer from RLS, a neurologic disorder characterized by an overwhelming urge to move your legs when they're at rest. "It can cause severe sleep deprivation because whenever you do fall asleep, your legs jerk you awake," says Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, D.O., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic. If you suspect RLS, check your iron levels: One suspected cause is iron deficiency (doctors aren't sure why). If you aren't anemic, ask your doctor about Requip, a drug proved to reduce RLS symptoms.

● Your meds are knocking you out.
Certain antidepressants such as Celexa and Paxil can be sedating, according to Judith Orloff, M.D., psychiatrist and author of Positive Energy, so if yours are dragging you down, talk to your doctor about switching to a more "activating" antidepressant such as Prozac or Wellbutrin. Another common Rx culprit? Statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs that can deplete body levels of CoQ10, a coenzyme vital to producing energy in cells. Often, switching to a different statin solves the problem. Plenty of over-the-counter (OTC) products zap energy, too. The most common are allergy or nighttime cold remedies, which contain diphenhydramine HCL, a sedating antihistamine. If an OTC label lists fatigue as a side effect, ask the pharmacist for suggestions on nonsedating meds.

● You've got diabetes.
Nearly 10 million women over age 20 have diabetes, and about a third don't know it, according to the American Diabetes Association. One telltale symptom: unexplained fatigue. "When you're diabetic, glucose or blood sugar - the body's main source of energy - can't get into your muscle cells," says endocrinologist Alan L. Rubin, M.D., author of Diabetes for Dummies. If you're overweight and/or have a family history of diabetes, ask your doctor for a fasting blood glucose test to measure your levels. If caught early, diabetes can be controlled with simple lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise, lowering fat intake, and losing excess pounds.

What to Do

1. Go for a walk.
"Less than 25 percent of my female patients get enough exercise to feel energized," says Ann Kulze, M.D., author of Dr. Ann's 10 Step Diet. Aim for 30 minutes of activity, five days a week.

2. Snack on nuts, not sweets.
Sugary snacks cause blood sugar levels to spike, then crash, leaving you wiped out, says Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers (fibroandfatigue.com). But the protein in nuts digests slowly for lasting energy.

3. Pop a mint.
The smell of mint ups alertness by stimulating your trigeminal nerve, "the same nerve that's activated by smelling salts," says Alan Hirsch, M.D., director of Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation.

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