Article written by Dr. Lisa Silvani
Whenever we hear the word fatigue, it sounds so far away that it’s just not possible that we could have one. Everyone is capable of being tired. It’s not a something new or even extraordinary.
But, fatigue is different.
Looking at the news or hearing stories about fatigue leaves us with the impression that fatigued people will stay in bed for hours, be disabled, or not lead a normal life. While most of it’s true, it’s not always like that. But, before I tell you my own story about fatigue, let’s explore the difference between general tiredness and fatigue.
“It was never realized until it’s experienced!”
Tiredness is something that can easily happen to anyone. Whether you are old or young, work in an office or out in the fields, tiredness is common and it’s not devastating. When you are tired, the best remedy would be taking a rest and going to sleep, a good sleep. Tiredness usually disappears on it’s own after a few days and rarely stays more than 14 days. Tiredness also has a clear reasoning or possible cause that closely relates to the timing of the symptom itself. Long flights, big events, and even long hours of commuting can be tiring.
That is tiredness, now let’s discuss fatigue. Fatigue is when the tiredness does not disappear after 14 days. So, whenever someone is feeling tired for 14 days in a row, we can call it fatigue. Fatigue itself usually doesn’t have a clear cause. Unlike tiredness, which usually happens after an exhausting task or event, fatigue can come when nothing big is happening.
Fatigue itself is not something that can be easily resolved with more rest or even sleep. Since the problem in fatigue usually stems from a deeper problem around hormones, the immune, and even the detoxification system, it’s not easy to find the real cause or even know that what you have is fatigue. But, we can take a look at the signs and symptoms that are closely related to fatigue. Such as:
- Sleep problems.
- Weight gains.
- Memory problems.
- Mood swings.
- Concentration problems.
- Immune problems.
- Digestive issues.
If we look at the above list, it seems that everything can be connected to fatigue. This is mainly because our energy is what drives our metabolism. So whenever we have a low reserve of energy, our metabolism slows down and the body suffers.
Now that we know that tiredness and fatigue are two completely different things, we might want to take a look at how tired are our body and whether we have fatigue or not. The thing is how can we tell if what we experience is fatigue or a simple tiredness?
Well, it’s not going to be easy, just like how I experienced it.
It was about 7 years ago when I started doing my private practice and handling most of the things by myself that I finally understood what happened. I was busy trying to run the practice, the promotion, the networking, learning new knowledge and skills, and of course doing consultation. I know that my health was not in its best shape, but I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Mind you, I just finished my Anti Aging Medicine master’s. It’s fresh and refreshing as the experiences got me not only knowledge but also a monthly getaway to out of state. So, that’s a plus. But, even with my knowledge, I was never sure what happened to my health. And even with the monthly getaway, it didn’t help my health as much as I wanted it to. Although it did provide stress relief.
Dealing with allergies for most of my life, having colds and fever more than once a month had become a norm for me. So it was never something I thought could be different anyway. But what I forgot to realize was that I had many other symptoms that could be counted as fatigue such as sugar cravings, sleep problems, cold hands now and then, and many others.
The moment when it changed…
I joined a course… It was a medical course that asked me to do a series of blood tests including hormone levels. After the result came back, I was taken aback by the level of my thyroid hormones. It showed a lower level than what the normal should look like. I never really tested my thyroid level so it was my first time. And then I knew that I had hypothyroidism. But, I was not sure that’s all I have or maybe I just need to console myself for abandoning my health years and let it slide. I started to take note of my meals, my activities, my sleep schedules, and exercises, something I rarely did.
At that moment, I was only starting to learn functional medicine. I start to apply the little things I get from the books and webinars. Maybe I tried to tie the knot and see what came up. Finally, I treated myself as my first patient.
Several things I did back then to help me get back from my fatigue state are:
- I changed the whole diet. I added more vegetables and proteins.
- Cut sugar. No sweets, cakes, cookies, sugary drinks.
- I drank my coffee without sugar.
- I joined a gym and had twice-a-week sessions.
- I went to bed at 10 pm when I previously went at midnight.
- I went out with friends more.
- I spent time alone to recharge myself.
- I had my first ‘tea time’ as a daily me time.
- I cut several tasks that were never really something I wanted to do.
There were many more, but these are some of the most important things.
It took me almost six months before I finally felt better and realized that it was working. I started to have a better and lean body shape, my hair started to grow stronger and I realized it was thicker than before. I start to enjoy my day more and have more energy after. My concentration was getting better. I noticed that I get less triggered by small things and that I used to have mood swings. Overall, I feel better and happier.
Partly relieved, part overjoyed, I tried to learn more and dive deeper into Functional Medicine. The most important thing I learnt from that moment was that there was hope for chronic conditions such as fatigue and hypothyroidism without using drugs as the main center of therapy.
Today, I am sharing my story with you and hope that if you feel tired and it happens often, never think that it is just another exhausting day. Check yourself and give time for your health. I hope you can be healthier and happier too.
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Meet Dr. Lisa:
I am a Functional medicine practitioner and focus on helping people with fatigue, hormonal problems and gut issues that want to boost their energy and have better health overall. On Instagram, I enjoy sharing tips about healthy lifestyle and aim to impact more and more people to better their health in sustainable ways. In my 6 week program I teach nutritions, movement, and build better lifestyle and habits to balance metabolism. In my online practice, I am available through 1 on 1 consultation, workshops, and group programs.
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