Why Do I Feel So Tired?

By Autumn Frandsen, ND

As we head into Fall, the colder weather and shorter days do not leave us much desire or time to get outside. For those not on a vitamin D supplement, we rely on the sun exposure to generate the reserves we need to stay happy and healthy. Low vitamin D levels can be one cause of increased fatigue, but that is generally not the whole story.

Ragweed pollen is highest between late August and late October and this often brings with it complaints of fatigue, headaches, or irritability. To add insult to injury, outdoor molds are in full effect by October and can elicit similar symptoms that can compound with the ragweed pollen effects. Many times, I ask patients if they suffer from seasonal allergies and the reply is “no” because they associate sneezing, watery eyes, and wheezing with allergies. Upon further testing and evaluation, we uncover that treating the subclinical allergies with methods other than antihistamines helps raise their energy and mood as well as clear their minds and eliminate their headaches.

Food allergies and sensitivities can also cause similar symptoms, with a focus on low energy and mood. If a person struggles with low vitamin D, food sensitivities, and fall allergies, they are particularly at risk for fatigue. It is important to identify which foods are causing issues so that they may be eliminated and desensitized while the patient’s GI tract is being healed. Eating foods that cause a low level of immune activity tax the body and cause stress on it. When a person is under psychological stress in addition to physical stress, there is  tremendous demand for energy and a person may feel like they are fighting an uphill battle. Too many years of this can lead to adrenal fatigue and an inappropriate response to stimuli.

Stress on the body can also be caused by infections such as viruses, bacteria, a fungus, or a parasite. One of these types of infections alone can cause fatigue but when the immune system is taxed, it paves the way for other families of infections to take hold. Combine this with low vitamin D, allergies, and mental stress, and the it is only a matter of time before the body begins to show more pronounced symptoms. For many, fatigue is bad enough, but when the warning is not heeded, the body will begin to show different signs of disharmony.

Often, treating fatigue is like peeling back layers of an onion. Little improvements can be observed by deep breathing, changing the diet, increasing exercise, and treating infections but if the whole body is not addressed, the symptoms tend to wax and wane and it is best to view all of the problematic areas as equally important. I often recommend treating allergies with oral immunotherapy, healing the GI tract, and repopulating the GI tract with healthy bacteria while pinpointing and addressing any infections or underlying conditions.

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