Are you constantly tired, sluggish, exhausted? Being chronically tired can make it difficult or nearly impossible to perform the activities expected of you each day. Though we all feel depleted or burnt out sometimes, there’s more to chronic fatigue than just needing more sleep at night – a hormone imbalance might be the culprit.
Your hormones play a crucial role in controlling your energy levels. If your hormones are out of balance, it can make you feel constantly tired and cause sleep troubles. If you’re constantly fatigued, it may be due to an imbalance.
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How Hormones Impact Your Energy Levels
Hormones control your body’s overall health and well-being, playing a role in bodily processes such as your body temperature, heart rate, and mood. If your hormone chemicals are out of balance, even just a little bit, they can cause a wide range of symptoms. This includes feeling tired all the time and having difficulty sleeping. When your hormones are unbalanced, things like your mood and energy levels can shift dramatically.
There are 50 different hormones circulating throughout your body – so which hormones contribute to fatigue?
When you’re low in estrogen, a host of irritating symptoms can occur. Low estrogen leads to insomnia and causes mood swings, which can leave you feeling drained and mentally numb. As the primary female sex hormone, your menstrual cycle and menopause can lead to low estrogen levels.
Estrogen levels naturally fluctuate throughout your monthly cycle, but if your estrogen dips too low and stays low, you could find yourself suffering from exhaustion.
During menopause, your estrogen levels will naturally start to wane. So, it’s common to experience chronic fatigue during this time.
Other common causes for low estrogen include:
- Exercising too much
- Not eating enough
- Conditions affecting the ovaries such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome
Progesterone – another female sex hormone – helps you relax and fall asleep at night. This is why it’s sometimes called “the sleepy hormone.” If your body produces too much of this sleepy hormone, it could leave you feeling sleepy all day long. On the other hand, too little progesterone decreases libido and increases your risk of anxiety, which is a contributor to fatigue.
While hormone imbalances in women are commonly discussed, it isn’t as widely recognized that men can have hormonal problems, too. When a man experiences a hormonal imbalance, he will often be fatigued.
One of the trademark symptoms of low testosterone in men is chronic fatigue. Testosterone is an essential hormone for building muscle mass and driving libido. It’s also a crucial component for generating energy in your body. If you have lower than average testosterone levels, you could experience persistent tiredness and poor energy.
Low testosterone doesn’t just affect men. Women whose testosterone levels are below normal are likely to suffer from unexplained extreme fatigue. Female testosterone levels drop naturally with age, but a testosterone imbalance can also be caused by taking oral contraception or issues with your ovaries.
Cortisol plays a key role in helping your body cope with stress. Often referred to as the “stress hormone,” cortisol can spike without any reason, increasing anxiety and keeping you up at night.
Long-term stress can affect the adrenal glands, which are responsible for making cortisol. If your adrenal glands aren’t functioning properly, it can leave you feeling sluggish and never rested.
In a healthy body, insulin helps convert sugar into the energy you need to function. If you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, this process becomes dysfunctional. When the insulin hormone dysfunctions, it means that your body is producing insulin, but it’s not sending blood sugar into your cells where it can be turned into energy, leaving you feeling drained of all energy.
Leptin isn’t a hormone you hear about as often as the others. Leptin is produced in your fat cells and signals your brain to use your body’s fat storage as energy. When your body doesn’t recognize leptin, it thinks that your body is starving and tells it to store more fat. This resistance to leptin causes lethargy. Leptin resistance also contributes to obesity, which increases your risk of experiencing chronic fatigue.
Could It Be Your Thyroid?
Your thyroid gland produces hormones that govern your body’s metabolism. If your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, it’s called underactive thyroid. If it produces too much, it’s an overactive thyroid.
Every cell in your body depends upon thyroid hormones to regulate energy production. If you have an underactive thyroid, your bodily processes slow down and lead to symptoms like chronic fatigue. Conversely, with an overactive thyroid, your body revs up and can cause restlessness and sleep problems, making you feel tired day in and day out.
Getting to the Root of Your Fatigue
While many people think that low energy is simply a by-product of not getting enough sleep, it can be caused by a serious condition and lead to long-term effects on your health.
Traditional medicine tends to treat fatigue with medications that can just make the problem worse. Functional medicine differs in its approach and searches for the root cause of your fatigue.
When you meet with Dr. Joseph Radawi, he will acquire a detailed patient history and perform a physical exam to find clues as to why you have fatigue. This helps us address your problem on the deepest possible level. Dr. Radawi will also order focused labs to try to find the source of your fatigue. These labs test for abnormalities in the following body systems:
- Endocrine System – Your adrenals and thyroid are located in the endocrine system. If these systems are outside of the optimal range, it could indicate that hormones are behind your drowsiness.
- Gastrointestinal System – Testing of your gastrointestinal system looks for the presence of pathogens and infections and any nutrient deficiencies, as well as the overall health of your microbiome. A leaky gut or infection could be contributing to your tiredness.
- Detox Pathways – The main detox pathways include your skin, lungs, kidneys, colon, and liver. Testing these areas checks for environmental toxins (like lead and mercury), chemical sensitivities, and your body’s overall ability to remove toxins.
Based on the information Dr. Radawi gathers from your medical history, lab results, and physical exam, he will work with you to create a targeted and individualized health plan that’s best for you. This plan could include a combination of changes to your diet and lifestyle and appropriate supplementation to restore your health.
What If It Isn’t Hormones?
If hormones aren’t behind your low energy levels, there’s a host of other reasons that could be the root cause, including:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Chronic infections or dormant infections
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Not exercising enough
- Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression
- Poor gut health
- Food sensitivites or allergies
- Genetic predisposition
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Autoimmune disease
Constant exhaustion and feeling hazy shouldn’t be a part of your everyday life. You deserve to know what’s causing your low energy levels. At Tri-Cities Functional Medicine, we’ll work with you to discover the root of your chronic fatigue and create a custom plan to get you feeling like your best self again.
Are you feeling constantly tired? Take the first step:
- Watch a free webinar to learn about our approach to the health concerns you are facing.
- Schedule a Free Discovery Call to discuss your health concerns and goals to see if our practice is a good fit for you.
- After your discovery call – if we are a good fit, you’ll schedule a consultation with our doctor to dive deeper and formulate an individualized treatment plan for you.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.