Sleep Deficit

People often shrug off fatigue for lack of sleep. But while tiredness is a health risk in its own right (sleep deprivation can cause heart trouble and raise your susceptibility to accidents), it can also point to an underlying medical concern.

Wake up to these potential causes of your drowsiness:

  • Thanks to blood loss during menstruation, women of childbearing years often lack iron, which can lead to anemia. But vitamin B–12 deficiency, cancer, and even chronic lead intoxication can cause anemia. Besides exhaustion, weakness, concentration loss, leg cramps, pale or prickly skin, and headaches are just some indicators.
  • Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, occurs when the small gland located in your throat stops producing enough hormones to control metabolism. Age often triggers the slowdown, but pregnancy, pituitary disorders, and autoimmune diseases are also culprits. While manageable, hypothyroidism can be serious if not treated. Fatigue, sluggishness, depression, muscle weakness, and unexplained weight gain can signal a thyroid condition. A simple test can determine if your thyroid isn’t functioning properly.
  • An estimated 24 million Americans suffer from diabetes, while 57 million are borderline. A pancreatic defect that affects insulin production causes the body to accumulate too much blood glucose. Warning signs include low energy, excessive thirst, frequent urination, itchy skin, blurred vision, weight loss, and numbness. An official diagnosis is the key to managing this condition — with diet and/or medication.

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