Perception or reality? Here’s what you should know about the perplexing problem of fatigue in women

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FEATURE — Fatigue hits nearly all of us, including my wife and me, who are avid exercisers, hikers and doers. We work our way through it, but it is more noticeable every year — and we have done things right.

This is not to repeat the obvious. Of course we all lose energy as we age. And as we lose energy and lose baseline metabolism, we gain weight and don’t get as much done. And it is frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be a life-sentence of exhaustion.

It may just be a phase, a small hiccup in life, that will get better with time and patience. Some of the first steps toward decreasing fatigue include eating well, exercising moderately, slowing down in daily life and toning down any alcohol consumption.

If things don’t get better, I recommend having your blood counts done, getting blood pressure checked and a getting a baseline physical test at a gynecologist or primary care provider. This will help you see if the fatigue is perception or reality.

If there is nothing wrong with labs, exams and baselines, unless there is something else like anemia, depression, Lyme disease or something out of the ordinary, you know it is likely just life catching up to you. You actually don’t need a laundry list of testing in most cases. Go back to eating well and exercising daily. Be religious about going to bed early. Lift weights. Lose weight. Do yoga.

If after all that you still aren’t feeling right, get back with your doctor to do some more in-depth testing. You should be feeling better. If you have done all that and you are not, it’s time to start digging for other things. But 99% of those of us suffering from fatigue will be “fixed” with the remedies I’ve mentioned, with the acceptance that fatigue is now a fact of life. You can minimize it, but you can’t make it go away completely.

Don’t fight it. Let it be your guide. Fatigue can help you know what to do and what not to do at your stage of life. Accept it, and you will be happier and healthier. See your doctor when you have done all you can do to rule out other diseases, but have a plan for when and if the blood work comes out normal. Then learn to get on with life with fatigue in your basket.

When it’s not pathogenic as part of a disease, fatigue is normal. Work with it. Accept it. Embrace it — it’s your companion for life.

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