Why you MUST visit your Doctor if you have fatigue, even if it is mild
Fatigue can be caused as a side effect of other serious diseases including cancer, liver disorders, autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis and well as heart disease. For this reason is it vital that you go to your local medically qualified doctor and have a general set of blood tests done which can easily and cheaply flag up any serious issues and simply get them ruled out.
Another reason to get these tests done, is that once you have the results, you can use them results to assess for functional nutritional imbalances which the vast majority of conventional medical doctors are not qualified or trained to look at. More on this below.
Afraid to get a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Label it?…
The label is really just useful information – it’s not your destiny unless you choose that
It’s vital to find out what your type of fatigue is and where you lie in the spectrum of severe to mild fatigue so you can address it adequately and overcome it. Some people are afraid to seek out or accept a diagnosis of the severest form known as “chronic fatigue syndrome” even if they fit that criteria because they feel it creates a label and reinforces the idea and reality of the illness, making it worse.
The problem with this is that if there is a level of denial occurring, it can lead to a failure to pace activities well enough leading to chronic boom and bust (see post on the Art of Pacing) and failure to fully investigate causes which could be successfully addressed. It also downplays the seriousness of the illness leading to both you and your family/friends and professional colleagues “managing” the situation or ignoring it completely, leaving the fatigued person no adequate support or recognition about lifestyle changes that may be needed to support recovery.
Denial is really a sure way to perpetuate the illness unfortunately, and sometimes the clear definition and diagnosis of the type of fatigue is what is needed to go beyond it and recover. The label is really just useful information – it’s not your destiny, unless you choose that.
Don’t Ignore Milder Early Symptoms – Prevention is always better than cure
It is now understood that serious forms of fatigue and other chronic illnesses including autoimmune diseases, cancer and so forth, take YEARS to manifest in the body. When someone catches a bug and never recovers from it, that was just the trigger or tipping point after the body had been moving out of balance for many years running up to the exposure to the trigger.
Our bodies are always speaking to us and giving us signals, so milder forms of symptoms should NOT be ignored. Often by the time I saw patients, they had ignored earlier, milder symptoms for years and were in the full chronic fatigue syndrome phase. It is MUCH easier to focus on wellness and prevention than sickness and cure when wishing to prevent or recover from any chronic illness.
If you have already been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue…
I recommend that every single patient who comes to me diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome provides a set of standard conventional blood test results which are not less than 1 year old as symptoms and illnesses can develop and change over time.
As an example I consulted with a patient who refused to see their doctor for 8 years (due to the fact the doctors could do little to help them), unbeknownst to the patient, they had developed thyroid cancer, which went undiagnosed because the patient put all their symptoms down to to the chronic fatigue and did not regularly check in with their doctor.
Patients with chronic illnesses ideally should check in once per year with their licensed conventional medical doctor. Doctors in the UK are not obliged to provide a full set of standard tests for chronic fatigue patients, but they usually will complete them if patients ask politely. Doctors ARE obliged to complete standard tests annually for children with chronic fatigue in the UK.
Standard Tests to request:
• Blood pressure • Serum Ferritin (iron) • Lipid profile • ESR • Blood glucose • Uric acid
• Thyroid Test (TSH and T4) • Serum B12 and folate • Full Blood Count • Liver Function • Electrolytes including phosphorus, chloride and bicarbonate
Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis
As mentioned it is possible to analyse the standard set of doctor’s tests to gain information and functional and nutritional levels. Generally this involves narrowing reference ranges. So for example TSH may be mildly high and T4 may be mildly low – not far enough that your doctor would diagnose low thyroid, but far enough out of the range to suggest a sub-clinical low thyroid that may benefit from some nutritional support such as taking selenium, iodine and supporting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis with some adaptogenic herbs.
Another example are certain liver enzymes, some may be a little low, suggesting functional zinc deficiency. Globulin and total protein levels can provide information about stomach acid levels, adequacy of protein in the diet and protein absorption for example.
Full guidance providing analysis and recommendations will be available for members of the support portal on this website in the coming months. For those who want to jump ahead now, these are two books which lay out full guidelines on blood chemistry analysis:
- Blood Chemistry and CBC Analysis by Dicken Weatherby
- Your Blood Never Lies by Dr James LaValle
These are great and essential training in functional medicine and can provide a start point for analysis of functional nutritional deficiencies.