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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. 6: Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)

If you are generally sluggish, run down, and even a little depressed, the problem may be a slow thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck and helps set the rate of metabolism, the rate at which the body uses energy.

According to the American Thyroid Foundation, by age 60 about 17% of all women will have a thyroid disorder and most won't know it. The most common cause, they say, is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Hashimoto's stops the gland from making enough thyroid hormones for the body to work the way it should. The result is hypothyroidism, or a slow metabolism.

Blood tests known as T3 and T4 will detect thyroid hormones. If these hormones are low, synthetic hormones (medication) can bring you up to speed.

Chronic Fatigue Cause No. 7: Food Allergies

While food is supposed to give us energy, some doctors believe hidden food intolerances -- or allergies -- can do the opposite. According to Rudy Rivera, MD, author of Your Hidden Food Allergies Are Making You Fat, even mild food intolerance can leave you feeling sleepy. Eat the offending food long enough and you could find yourself feeling continually exhausted.

"Evidence indicates food intolerance as a cause of fatigue, and even suggests that fatigue may be an early warning sign of food intolerance," Rivera says.

If you suspect that food may be behind all that yawning, Rivera says to start with an elimination diet, cutting out foods that cause you to feel sleepy within 10 to 30 minutes of eating them. You can also talk to your doctor about a food allergy test.

Chronic Fatigue Cause No. 8: Sleep Apnea

If you're not getting enough sleep, it stands to reason you'll feel fatigued. But what if you don't realize that your sleep is insufficient? This happens to millions of people with a condition called sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes you to momentarily stop breathing, often many times during the night. Each time you stop breathing, you awaken just long enough to disrupt your sleep cycle, usually without being aware of it.

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