How Hidden Health Concerns Wear You Out continued...
●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.
● 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.