Could this be why you’re so tired?
About 15% of women and 10% of men regularly feel very tired or exhausted in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hectic schedules, poor diet, workplace stress – these can all be reasons why you may be feeling fatigued.
However, one cause you might not have considered is anemia, a condition where the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells.
“Anemia is important to consider and rule out as a contributing factor to your fatigue,” says Dr. William Seng Tan, a family medicine physician at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “You can find out your hemoglobin (part of your red blood cells) level through a simple blood draw.”
According to Dr. Tan, there are many different types of anemia. “Mild anemia is common in females with heavy periods. The solution for this is usually oral iron supplementation and addressing what’s causing the heavy bleeding during menses.”
Other anemias are caused by slow blood loss that you might not notice – for example, in the gastrointestinal tract. If you are taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen regularly on an empty stomach for arthritis or chronic pain, they can cause ulcers in the stomach or small intestine, leading to bleeding that you may or may not notice in your bowel movements.
Some anemias are caused by dietary restrictions. “Vegans or vegetarians, specifically, are at higher risk if they don’t get enough iron, B12 or folate in their diet,” Dr. Tan adds.
He suggests talking with your health care provider about contributing factors to your fatigue. If one of these is anemia, you can be easily tested and treated.
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About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.
Hello. I’ve been vegan since 2011 and never felt more energized and healthier than ever. I used to feel very tired and sleepy but my plant-based eating resolved this problem and many others. When you state the risk for vegans, could you provide the statistical research and the source of it to support your claims. Thanks!
My doctor prescribed iron for me because my numbers were low. I felt tired, grouchy, and out of breath with little exertion. Then I was too low iron to donate blood. I knew there was a problem.
Agreeing with Marina, I am 60 years old, a vegetarian and never felt better. Obviously, we have to eat a balanced diet, but so many articles point at Vegan or vegetarians when its anyone who doesn’t eat right. This is why meat eaters always think they cannot be healthy if they don’t eat meat.