Fatigue

Symptoms of Fatigue

  • Lack of energy
  • Drowsiness
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Feelings of dragging
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty managing your normal routine
  • Constant urge for napping
  • Weariness
  • Tired after eating
  • Memory lapses
  • Short attention span
  • Aches and pains
Fatigue is one of the earliest symptoms reported in menopausal women. The intensity and severity of fatigue varies, but overall it severely affects the quality of life as well as the activities of daily living. During the early phase of menopause, both the estrogen and progesterone hormones start to decline. Once menopause occurs, the hormonal production ceases and the different symptoms start to kick in, in which fatigue is among the leading symptoms. In order to manage fatigue during menopause, it is important to pinpoint the symptoms, causes and treatment of fatigue, which will equip you with the knowledge to deal with this disabling condition.

About Fatigue

Fatigue is a general sense of being tired, associated with lack of energy and motivation. Some people define it as feeling weak and lethargic, not having the energy to carry out the activities of daily living.

Fatigue is not a permanent problem, but can be reversed by making the correct diagnosis. While obtaining history, it is important to discern whether fatigue is caused by chronic fatigue syndrome or menopause. In chronic fatigue syndrome, the symptoms of fatigue are much more severe as compared to menopausal fatigue.

Crashing Fatigue

Crashing fatigue is a sudden feeling of severe, persistent and unexplained exhaustion that can occur at any time during the day. This type of fatigue is mostly seen in menopausal women, which occurs due to lack of the hormones, estrogen and progesterone.

Crashing fatigue is a potentially debilitating menopause symptom because it can lead to severe mood swings and irritability, which severely impairs the quality of life. This problem is further compounded by high stress levels, impaired sleep, etc. The feelings of intense tiredness can leave its victims in sever depression, but can be alleviated with treatment. This type of fatigue is typically not improved by bed rest.

Causes of Fatigue

menopause-fatigue-relief   Menopause sets in with declining estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible to regulate fertility, as well as energy. With decline in these hormones, symptoms of fatigue develop, which include lack of energy, lethargy, weakness, irritability, increased tiredness, as well as aches and pains. In menopausal women, fatigue can occur due to several reasons. It is important to determine the actual cause of fatigue, so it can be treated in an effective manner. Below we will discuss the hormonal as well as other diseases that cause fatigue in menopausal women.

Hormonal - Menopausal fatigue is caused by the lack of the estrogen and progesterone hormones. During the menstrual phase, there is a lot of variation in the production of these hormones that brings on various symptoms, in which fatigue is the most reported. There are other hormones that play a major role in causing symptoms of fatigue, which are adrenal, thyroid as well as melatonin. With complete cessation of the production of estrogen and progesterone, the symptoms of fatigue are more pronounced and debilitating. It is also important to note that these hormones are responsible for the maintenance of the sleep-wake cycle. In the absence of these hormones, the sleep cycle is disturbed and the lack of proper sleep further aggravates the symptoms of fatigue. In the clinical history, poor sleep and feeling excessively tired while waking up are recorded as the mainstay symptoms and signs of fatigue. A thorough workup is necessary to determine the exact cause of fatigue. Once determined, it can be managed effectively to reverse the symptoms of fatigue.

Disease Caused - There are a number of other diseases responsible to cause the symptoms of fatigue. Thorough and careful workup is required to determine the exact cause. Diseases that can be a potential cause of fatigue other than menopause includes sleep apnea, depression, adrenal fatigue, anemia, narcolepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, psychological disorders, etc.

Other Causes- Some other causes of fatigue are lack of sleep; Anemia, due to a iron deficiency and is common in women who have prolonged or heavy periods; Infections, such as Lyme disease, flu, AIDS and glandular fever; Depression; Cancer; Diabetes; Low metabolism; High metabolism; and Chronis Fatigue Syndrome.

Managing Your Fatigue

Common Triggers

  • Allergies
  • Jet lag
  • Boredom
  • High Stress

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Lack of exercise
  • Drugs

  • Poor Diet
  • High Stress
  • Deskbound/Sitting all day

Dietary Changes

Improper diet is a leading cause of fatigue, both in menopausal women and otherwise. It is highly advised that menopausal women adhere to a balanced diet so as to avoid aggravating fatigue symptoms, which are already in effect because of lack of estrogen and progesterone.

  • Stay hydrated – Dehydration can reduce blood flow to organs, drastically slowing down your brain—and you along with it. One of the most important diet changes to beat fatigue is to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
  • Eat breakfast – Eating a hearty breakfast fills your energy tank for the day. Throw in carbohydrates at breakfast – a bagel with peanut butter, oatmeal, fruit and a glass of milk/soy milk.
  • Combine your protein and carbohydrates – By eating the two of these alongside each other, you can beat the afternoon drowsiness that typically sets in. Protein contains a neurotransmitter that promotes a relaxed and calm feeling, assisting you in fighting emotional fatigue. Carbohydrates boost the brain’s intake of neurotransmitters that promote attention, alertness and motivation. Eliminate simple sugars and trigger foods in your diet.
  • Replenishing Your Diet – Eating more calcium-rich foods, magnesium-rich foods and Vitamin E-foods, like green vegetables, nuts and almonds, are other easily adaptable diet changes to help replenish necessary electrolytes lost through perspiration.

Treatment

  • Vitamins – Vitamin B and Vitamin D play essential roles in energy and vitality. One of the best sources for Vitamin D is the sun, as well as fish, dairy and many nutritional supplements. Vitamin D is closely related to energy and mood levels and is needed for strong bones, to prevent osteoporosis and is linked to the health of the immune system.
  • Alternative Medicine – Chinese medicine (acupuncture and herbology) has been a long standing treatment for hot flashes around the world. Acupuncture stimulates endorphins and neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which helps maintain a positive sense of well-being.
    Black Cohosh
    One of the most commonly used herbal remedies is Black Cohosh, a perennial plant that is a member of the buttercup family. It provides powerful phytoestrogens that mimic the hormone’s effects and bind to hormone receptors in the uterus and other parts of the body, alleviating hot flashes. Black Cohosh is also known to relieve hot flashes efficiently and is a good alternative to HRT. It is also used effectively for treating PMS, arthritis and lowering blood pressure. Red Clover, Dong Quai, Ginseng, Kava and evening primrose oil can be used as natural therapies, although there are some risks involved. Herbal supplements are not as closely regulated as prescription drugs and the amount of the herbal product, quality and safety may vary between brands.
  • Herbal Remedies – One of the most commonly used herbal remedies is Black Cohosh, a perennial plant that is a member of the buttercup family. It provides powerful phytoestrogens that mimic the hormone’s effects and bind to hormone receptors in the uterus and other parts of the body, alleviating hot flashes. Black Cohosh is also known to relieve hot flashes efficiently and is a good alternative to HRT. It is also used effectively for treating PMS, arthritis and lowering blood pressure. Valerian is a type of relaxant that improves the quality of sleep and alleviates cases of insomnia. Studies show that people taking this herb fall asleep faster and feel much more refreshed upon awakening in the morning. Echinacea helps protect cells during infection. Ginkgo biloba improves circulation and brain function. Carrot juice provides energy if fatigue is due to low blood pressure. Milk thistle protects the liver. St. Johns Wort has antiviral properties. Skullcap and valerian root improve sleep. Red Clover, Dong Quai, Ginseng, Kava and evening primrose oil can be used as natural therapies, although there are some risks involved.
  • Hormone Therapy Treatments (HRT) – For more severe cases of menopause, women may seek surgical or pharmaceutical treatments, although it is important to keep in mind that there are many studies showing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases a woman’s risk of elevated blood pressure, endometrial and breast cancers, strokes, blood clots and gallbladder disease. It is advised to speak with your doctor or healthcare professional regarding the negative side effects before you begin treatment.