Feeling drained all the time? You may be experiencing fatigue, a condition characterized by a total lack of energy. Sometimes it’s called exhaustion or lethargy.
Chronic fatigue isn’t the same as being sleepy. While it can be accompanied by the desire to fall sleep, that symptom isn’t necessary. Fatigue is more like “weariness”; you have no energy, can’t focus, don’t want to get up from the couch.
You may or may not be depressed, and feeling drained constantly can be depressing in and of itself. But that isn’t necessary either.
Does Low T Cause Excessive Fatigue?
But fatigue is commonly experienced by men with Low T. In fact, chronic exhaustion is one of the most frequently reported side effects among men with abnormally low levels of testosterone. It’s just that having low testosterone doesn’t make you tired.
So what’s the link? According to researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine, it has to do with your thyroid.
How Your Thyroid Can Help, Or Hurt, Your T Levels
The thyroid is a large gland directly below your Adam’s apple. It’s an endocrine gland, which means it produces hormones. These hormones control how quickly your body uses up its energy stores.
People with hyperthyroidism, overproductive glands, often feel jittery and anxious, because there are too many hormones in their bodies telling them to create energy all at once. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, usually results in fatigue. There are too few hormones being produced to sustain your body’s energy needs.
It turns out that hypothyroidism is also associated with hypogonadism, which is the real medical term used to name Low T. Testosterone is a hormone, after all, and men with hypothyroidism have trouble producing another hormone that helps the body produce testosterone. In other words, it’s your thyroid functioning that’s affecting your gonads, which create testosterone.
So the short answer is:
Low testosterone doesn’t cause fatigue. Low thyroid function, which can lead to decreased testosterone levels, causes fatigue.
But don’t just jump from the fact that you’re always tired and assume you have either Low T or hypothyroidism.
9 Causes Of Severe Fatigue Or Exhaustion
1. It’s Just Your Daily Habits
First, take a look at your lifestyle. Excessive fatigue can often be explained by one or a combination of the following factors:
- Sleep – this is the obvious one, but it’s worth asking: “am I sleeping enough?” The average human requires at least 7 hours of sleep every night to fully recharge the body.
But as we age, sleep actually becomes less “restful,” less restorative, than it once was. This isn’t just a function of how much you sleep, but how well you sleep. It’s also a reflection of your overall health.
- Eating – The body’s energy is produced by metabolizing sugars. If you’re putting either too much or too little sugar into your body, it won’t be able to create the energy you need to feel truly awake.
Stimulants, like caffeine and nicotine, cause a sudden spike in alertness and then a corresponding decline, leaving your body drained. Over-the-counter antihistamines can do this, too.
- Exercise – Although you’ll probably feel tired immediately afterwards, physical exercise actually creates more energy over the long-term.
If you’ve examined your personal habits, and found none to be the cause of your fatigue, it might be time to start looking into other conditions. Always do this with the help of your doctor.
2. Sleep Apnea
People with sleep apnea, a condition in which your airways become blocked during the night, are unable to sleep restfully. When asleep, their breathing stops and starts fitfully, jolting the body from deeper sleep states.
Some sufferers wake completely, while others remain unconscious. Either way, the body is unable to get the rest it needs to wake up recharged.
Without adequate sleep, fatigue is a common day-time symptom of sleep apnea.
Many psychological disorders, notably major depression but also anxiety and acute stress disorder, can lead to fatigue. Depression often results in an almost total lack of energy. Doctors have even given this symptom a clinical name: “anergia.” A study published last year in the journal Depression & Anxiety found that fatigue was one of the most common symptoms of major depressive disorder and that it was usually poorly treated.
Both disorders, depression and anxiety, disrupt a person’s normal sleep cycles. It may be difficult to sleep during the night, and this lack of adequate rest “comes back” during the day, as severe fatigue.
Anemia is a deficiency of hemoglobin, a protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. Muscles and organs, including the heart, are starved of oxygen, and unable to adequately produce the energy you need to stay alert.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. Glucose, a sugar, is an essential component in your body’s ability to produce energy for muscles and cells. Diabetes can cause either hypoglycemia, low levels of glucose in the blood, or hyperglycemia, high levels. In either case, fatigue is a common symptom.
During periods of hypoglycemia, your blood doesn’t have enough sugar to produce energy. In hyperglycemia, the blood can become “clogged” with too much glucose, slowing down the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to the places that need it.
6. Cardiovascular Disease
Continuing our theme of circulation affecting energy levels, many common heart diseases can cause excessive fatigue. Most cardiovascular conditions involve a narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, impeding the flow of oxygen, and inhibiting your body’s ability to produce a sustainable level of energy.
7. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Affecting only around 0.02% of the American population, or 1 million people, Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition characterized by severe fatigue that cannot be explained by any underlying problems. Doctors still don’t know why CFS happens, although it seems to affect women far more than men.