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A Doctor Answers a Reader's Question About Fatigue

DrSugar Answers: How to Beat Fatigue?

DrSugar is in the house and answering your questions.

Dear DrSugar,
I feel drained all the time. I'm only 19, and work three 13 hours shifts a week as a nursing aide. Are there any vitamins I could take to help boost my energy level naturally? Here are a few details that might help: I smoke cigarettes socially. I drink alcohol about once a month. I take allergy pills and birth control. I'm 5" 1' and weigh about 170. I don't exercise — yes I know this would help. But, I don't even have the energy to start! My doctor acts as though she doesn't hear me when I talk so I haven't even been there in a year. Thanks!
Tired Tina

Is your daily grind wearing you down too? To check out DrSugar's advice on combating fatigue, just


Chronic fatigue and feeling constantly “drained” is a very common problem with a wide range of potential causes. In your case, the first thing that worries me is your lack of activity and your weight issue. Your body mass index (BMI) of 32, although not a perfect indicator, suggests that you are very overweight. Being overweight can often lead to decreased energy levels and is the most concerning piece of information in your question. The fact that you are able to go to work for 13 hour shifts tells me you can probably handle a very slow increase in exercise in the form of daily walks.

There are many other possible explanations for your symptoms. Chronic fatigue can be caused by a host of medical problems including chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, hypothyroidism, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, hormonal disorders, and the list goes on. Very basic medical tests would include a blood count, thyroid levels, and a fasting blood sugar. Another very common cause of fatigue is depression. Sometimes depression affects energy levels and sleeping patterns more than the symptoms we commonly associate with depression such as feelings of sadness or low self esteem. Another possibility in your case is the “allergy pills.” Allergy pills often contain antihistamines, which can be very sedating, especially older medications like Benadryl. The best thing you can do is get out there and start walking at least 30 minutes a day. It is also important to see your doctor. If she isn't receptive, I encourage you to find a new one.

If you have a question for DrSugar, send me a private message here and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

okmom23 okmom23 9 years
great advice!
fleurfairy fleurfairy 9 years
Being almost obese is the reason for your fatique. Believe me, if you lost a significant amount of weight, your energy would skyrocket. There are no quick solutions.
ditorres ditorres 9 years
Also, nutrition is important. Make sure you eat the right things in the right amounts at regular intervals.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
Definitely take a look at those allergy pills. I had a friend who was on some allergy medicine (can't remember which one) that made her "foggy" all the time. Once she switched meds, she felt a lot more awake during the day!
Maragon Maragon 9 years
I hate BMI. It's (at least for me) such a poor indicator of what your body is actually like. Especially if you're muscular. I recently lost over 30 pounds and have become quite muscular. My BMI still shows me as 'grossly obese' even though I'm clearly not. = / I agree with the doctors advice - any exercise will help keep you fit, lower stress and energize you. I always push myself to go to the gym on the days that I'm most tired. Not only do I feel like it's a big accomplishment, I'm usually much more awake and refreshed afterwards.
nancita nancita 9 years
Great advice; it seems counterintuitive, but the more active I am, the more energy I have (assuming I get enough sleep of course!). Good luck figuring it out, Tina.
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