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Women's Health

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Chronic Fatigue: Tired of Feeling Tired?

Learn what may be causing your chronic fatigue ... and 10 solutions.

Chronic Fatigue Cause No. 2: Caffeine Overload

Many of us grab an espresso, latte, or cola for a quick burst of energy, but for some women, caffeine has the opposite effect.

In an article published in the journal US Pharmacist, W. Stephen Pray, PhD, RPh, reports that caffeine is a stimulant, but if you take too much, the tables can turn.

"In some patients, continued abuse results in fatigue," says Pray. And if you think this means you simply require more caffeine to get the kick, this isn't the case. "Any attempts to solve the problem by increasing caffeine intake causes the fatigue to worsen," he says.

The solution to caffeine overload? Eliminate as much caffeine from your diet as possible. This means not only cutting out coffee. Chocolate, tea, soda, and even some over-the-counter and prescription medications also contain caffeine and could be causing unexplained fatigue.

Chronic Fatigue Cause No. 3: Anemia

"If you are in your reproductive years, and particularly if you experience heavy menstrual cycles, have fibroid tumors or uterine polyps, or if you've recently given birth, the blood loss may have caused you to develop anemia -- a leading cause of fatigue in women," says Rebecca Amaru, MD, clinical instructor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Problems occur, she says, when the bleeding leads to a deficiency of hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of your body. When your tissues and organs don't get enough oxygen, she says, the result is fatigue.

Other causes of anemia include internal bleeding and a deficiency of iron, folic acid, or vitamin B-12. Anemia may also be caused by chronic diseases like kidney disease. Symptoms can include dizziness, feeling cold, and irritability.

To confirm a diagnosis of anemia, your doctor will give you a blood test. Treatment, she says, usually consists of iron supplements if iron deficiency is the cause, and adding iron-rich foods -- such as spinach, broccoli, and red meat -- to your diet.

The good news: With effective treatment for anemia, your fatigue should begin to lift in 30 days or less.

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