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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Fatigue: A 21st Century Epidemic

Apr 15, 2011 01:01PM

In 1876, German Scientist, Dr Robert Kosch discovered cholera, a bacteria that led to the illness of millions over the centuries of humanity. A mere 133 years later we have wiped out this disease and saved lives by making more sanitary living conditions and the use of modern medicine. New health challenges arise and like the days of old, modern medicine is not always poised to handle them. While it is a symptom rather than a critical disease, fatigue is reaching epidemic levels, causing millions of Americans, especially women, to suffer while the medical establishment struggles for answers.

  Statistics show that 4 million Americans live with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) while I believe many more have the symptom of fatigue and not the medical label. The most prominent symptom of CFS is an unexplained feeling of fatigue. This fatigue remains regardless of how much rest the person gets. Symptoms include muscle and joint pain, muscle weakness, bowel problems, unexplained headaches, especially in the afternoon , forgetfulness, poor concentration, confusion, poor temperature control and difficulty sleeping. Fibromyalgia, MS, arthritis and a whole host of other health issues are frequent accompaniments to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

  Most women blame it on their superhuman lifestyle; the multitasking of kids, work, household and other chores. But it’s not OK to live with fatigue. Being chronically tired is the body’s signal that something is wrong and needs help. To ignore the sign of fatigue will lead to the danger of more severe and permanent health issues.

  Often, after seeing your primary doctor, there are no more answers than before. In a natural medicine approach we excel at helping repair dysfunctions and there are a few areas that should be investigated:

  1. Adrenal fatigue: This is the most common condition seen in our natural medicine clinic. The adrenal glands secrete a variety of hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenalin. The adrenals respond to stress and are involved in the fight or flight mechanism. When they are asked to deal with stress long term, they can eventually become exhausted and limit your ability to function day to day. This leads to a wide array of other hormonal and metabolic complications with fatigue being only one part of the picture. According to a conventional medical approach, adrenal fatigue does not exist. Yet simple salivary testing or an examination including the Pupillary reaction test or Raglan’s test can determine whether nutritional support for your adrenal glands is necessary.
  2. Nutrient deficiencies: Iron deficiencies can lead to a lower number of red blood cells to carry oxygen and can lead to fatigue. Any other variety of deficiencies can also cause vital cellular functions to stop leading to fatigue. If the cells aren’t producing energy, neither will the body.
  3. Hormone imbalances: In particular, thyroid imbalances or excess estrogens will affect the bodies ability to perform basic functions such as metabolism especially since it will block the ability to produce more adrenal hormones and increase energy.
  4. Undiscovered or chronic infections: More and more we are chronically affected by bacteria, parasites and viruses that will deplete our body while it tries to fight off the invaders. Routine blood tests are too broad to detect these issues but an alternative doctor trained to look at bloodwork functionally can often pick it up.
  5. Food Allergies: Hidden food allergies are often the cause of a chronically activated immune system leading to adrenal exhaustion as our bodies fight off the infection. Sugar, caffeine and many refined grains and starches will stimulate the body in an addictive way while the downside of stimulant leads to an energy crash.

  A basic Integrative Medical approach would include a good examination that involves the tests mentioned above. It may also include metabolic testing, salivary hormone testing, bioenergetic analysis or a whole host of other forms of functional tests you would never see in your primary care doctors office. Treatments that help would include acupuncture, herbal and nutritional medicine and/or diet and lifestyle modifications - all natural and highly effective.

  Don’t be fooled into thinking fatigue is normal just because everyone has it. It isn’t normal. It could lead to many other serious conditions without care. So if you truly want to preserve your health and restore you vitally address your health concerns now so you can live a long, healthy, happy and vital life.

Dr Kenneth R Hoffman is the Medical Director for Sophia Natural Health Center, a wellness based clinic that looks for the root cause of ill health and then applies a non-drug approach. SOPHIA specializes in Holistic Family Care, Hormone Balancing and Allergy Elimination. Sophia also screens women for breast cancer risk using Medical Infrared Thermography. For more information call 203-740-9300.