These days, by the time many women reach 40-years of age, they feel tired and fatigued and generally dismiss it as the result of raising a family, caring for a house and working. After spending 40 hours a week on the job, women come home to their husband and kids. They cook dinner and clean up afterwards. They do the laundry. They run the kids to soccer, band, cheerleader, choir, football and other extracurricular activities. She also has to do the shopping and keep the house clean and organized. By the time her head hits the pillow, she’s exhausted and goes to sleep thinking about doing it all over again the next day.
Yes, working moms are the busiest people in the world and far too often, they don’t get the credit they deserve nor do they get the time to rest and relax.
But is this exhaustion just a sign of a busy hectic life of working, raising a family and taking care of a house or could it be more serious than that?
Sadly, when many women go to see their doctor about their tiredness or fatigue, they don’t get much sympathy. Most doctors are also tired and fatigued and tend to dismiss their patients’ complaints as the result of a busy life. Sometimes, they will draw blood and test for things like anemia (low iron levels) and thyroid problems (especially if they are overweight). Low thyroid levels can result in feeling tired, but generally is associated with a low metabolism and weight gain. However, that’s not always the case as one woman I know was underweight when the blood work said she had low thyroid. The doctor was so surprised that he drew blood a second time and had it run again, and yes, this very slender and underweight woman was tired because of a low thyroid level. Once on medication, she wasn’t as tired all the time as she was before.
However, chronic fatigue can affect many women and if left unchecked and untreated, chronic fatigue can lead to a downward spiral of the woman’s health. It can weaken her immune system, lead to early aging and increase risk of diseases like heart disease.
Over time, the symptoms of fatigue can build and get worse over time. Knowing what to watch for can prompt you to get help if you find yourself with some of these symptoms of fatigue:
- Feelings of exhaustion (mental and physical)
- Being tired in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep
- Feeling rundown or overwhelmed
- Inability to bounce back or recover from illness or stress
- Joint pain
- Uncharacteristic muscle soreness after physical exertion
- Depressed mood, loss of energy, or “blah-ness”
- Poor short-term memory, confusion, irritability
- Lightheadedness or a “spacey” feeling
- Strong food cravings (particularly for sweets or other carbs)
- Dependence on caffeine, sugar or alcohol, especially in the afternoon and early evening
- “Second winds” after 6:00 pm
Causes of Chronic fatigue can include lack of sleep, poor nutrition, dehydration, stress and inactivity. If you feel like you may have chronic fatigue, take a good look at everything you do and eat and then try making some changes. Make sure you get enough sleep. Find some way to help relieve the stresses of the job, busy life and relationships – sometimes exercising and meditation can be a big help. Stress can also lead to a deficiency in dietary nutrients, so make sure you take the right supplements to give your body what you need. Drink enough water to prevent dehydration and take time to exercise. Exercising helps relieve stress, helps overall body health, especially the heart and bones and helps to prevent weight gain, lowers risk of diabetes and other diseases. In cases of severe chronic fatigue, sometimes a change of job is necessary.
If these don’t work, see your doctor and make sure he or she just doesn’t blow you off. One way or another, there is a cause or causes for your chronic fatigue and you need to find someone who can detect what that cause or causes are. Don’t just accept that working women are tired, because that attitude can lead to an early grave.