Chronic Conditions That Cause Fatigue

A number of chronic illnesses have fatigue as one of their symptoms. What are they and how to test for them? If you have a chronic condition, what support and nutrition should you consider? 

If you suffer from fatigue, you should be aware that it can be caused not only by nutritional deficiencies or lifestyle factors, but also by various serious diseases that may require diagnosis and medical treatment.  Although not significant by itself, fatigue plus other symptoms may be indicative of:

  • Early stages of cardiovascular disease
  • Neurological conditions
  • Circulatory disorders
  • Endocrine diseases
  • Kidney disease
  • Autoimmune diseases

Since heart disease and cancer are often chronic conditions, they can be the cause of both depression and fatigue, which are often inter-related.  It is really worth treating the depression (perhaps medically and certainly with good nutrition and de-stressing techniques) because this will help you to feel better and give your body the best chance of recovery.

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Chronic conditions and the tests for them

Doctors generally work on the principle of ruling out the most serious conditions first. This is a wise precaution, as if the fatigue is a symptom of another condition, the sooner it is discovered, the sooner treatment can begin. Here is a list of the major illnesses that should be ruled out:

  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Addison’s disease
  • Lupus
  • AIDS
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Occult (or hidden) abscess
  • Endocarditis
  • Anxiety
  • Congestive heart disease
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Occlusive vascular disease
  • Blood clots
  • Emphysema

In addition to any specific tests, a doctor will probably want to order the following standard tests:

  • SMAC
  • Thyroid panel
  • Lipid panel
  • Sedimentation rate
  • Urine analysis.

It’s very important to tell the doctor about your family history, as predisposition to certain diseases and conditions can be hereditary. This doesn’t mean that because your father or mother had an illness that you will certainly get it, it just means that it might be more likely that you develop this condition rather than something else.

Nutrition and support

Although the diagnosis of a serious or chronic condition can be a shock, it is more important than ever to get appropriate support. Chronic illness particularly can put a great deal of stress on an individual and much strain on close relationships. One of the things that you may want to do is start to practice de-stressing activities such as relaxation, creating a positive mental attitude and regular gentle physical activities such as walking or swimming.

Since nutritional status affects mood a lot, make sure that you eat well, and maintain good levels of vital nutrients. [For more information on this topic, please see Nutrients that you need to help you fight tiredness].

If you have been taking antibiotics, remember that these can trigger food intolerances and food allergies, which can easily turn into fatigue. As well as avoiding junk and processed food, it may be a good strategy to de-toxify your body as much as possible.