Women’s Health Problems Doctors Still Miss
- Women may feel like their symptoms and health problems are not taken seriously
- Some live with symptoms for 10-plus years before finally getting the right diagnosis
- Hard-to-diagnose women who can’t get the help may have autoimmune disorder
- Learn names, risk factors, symptoms, and treatments for misdiagnosed illnesses
— Ashley Price felt terrible. She was tired, dizzy spells came and went, dark splotches popped up on her chest for no reason, and she’d gained 50 pounds in two years. Some days she was starving other days she could barely eat. Her doc suggested that her problems would go away if Price just ate less and exercised more, even though she was dieting and working out regularly. Price demanded thyroid tests, only to have them come back normal.
Her doctor told her: “I have no idea what it is. Wait for it to go away.” It didn’t go away. “I could no longer think straight, no matter how hard I tried or what I did,” Price says. Worse, she suffered three straight miscarriages.
Finally, four years after this nightmare began — after the third miscarriage — an ultrasound revealed that her ovaries were riddled with cysts. She had polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder symptoms include irregular periods, infertility, brain fog, and obesity.
1. Polycystic ovary syndrome
What is it, and who gets it?
How does it feel?
How is it diagnosed?
How is it treated?
What is it, and who gets it?
Eat Breakfast Every Day
Your mother likely harped on this when you were a small child. Guess whatMom was right. When you first wake up, your blood sugar is low. Eating a proper breakfast can serve as an energy booster. Skipping breakfast drains your energy, contributing to the fatigue problem. It’s important to eat nutritiously at every meal but focus on breakfast to start your day off right.
Chronic Stress And Long
Aches and pains are common symptoms of stress, however, ongoing pain or stiffness may be a sign of a more serious problem.
A 2018 study published by PubMed revealed Stress-related disorders were significantly associated with risk of subsequent autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune diseases cause your immune system to produce antibodies which attack and damage the bodys healthy tissue instead of fighting infection. In certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, the antibodies attach to connective tissue within the joints leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, andwithout treatmentpotentially permanent joint damage.
Autoimmune diseases are often incurable however, early intervention and treatment can help prevent further damage and joint deterioration.
How Chronic Pain Causes Fatigue
The Arthritis Foundation says, The pain-fatigue connection can be a vicious circle. Dealing with pain for months at a time over many years can wear you down. It can affect your sleep habits, which adds to your exhaustion. Being fatigued, in turn, can worsen pain and make it more difficult to manage.
Here are five specific ways pain can cause fatigue.
Exercise Can Help Counter The Effects Of Fatigue
Exercise can often help relieve the effects of fatigue, especially more short-lived, acute forms of fatigue. Remaining physically active is important for patients with CFS, however, the approach to exercise must be individualized since exercise can cause the symptoms to become worse for some people. Other things that may help: better hydration, better diet, relaxation, and, of course, more rest and better sleep.
Caffeine and other stimulants may help fight fatigue in the short term, but longer-term, they may actually contribute to the problem.
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Fatigue In Chronic Rheumatologic Diseases
Unusual and chronic fatigue with various etiologies was described for 27 % of patients in a primary care clinic . Fatigue is common in RA, SpA, Sjögren syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus and vasculitis, although most publications concerned fatigue in RA or SpA . In RA and SpA, the frequency of fatigue ranged from 42 % to 80 % depending on the definition and methods of assessment . For 75 % of patients with ankylosing arthritis and 50 % of those with RA, fatigue was considered severe .
Several methods of evaluation have been used to investigate fatigue in rheumatologic diseases . The simplest and quickest scale is the visual analog scale , but this is a unidirectional scale. Multidirectional scales developed to include the different aspects of fatigue are the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 vitality subscale , the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Fatigue Scale , the Profile of Mood States, the RA-specific Multidimensional Assessment of Fatigue scale, the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory, the Brief Fatigue Inventory, and the Fatigue Severity Scale . With the VAS scale, the mean fatigue level in patients with RA was 42.1 .
Fact: Caffeine Provides A Mild Boost
Whether in the form of coffee, soft drinks, or gum, caffeine can briefly increase alertness. Keep in mind that the effect takes about 30 minutes to kick in, so you may want to pull over and rest until you perk up. This temporary fix has its limits — caffeine canât overcome severe fatigue and may have little impact on regular coffee drinkers.
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Nerve Conditions Which Damage Muscles
Conditions affecting nerves tend to lead to true muscle weakness. This is because if the nerve to a muscle fibre stops working, the muscle fibre can’t work either and it will become floppy and eventually shrivel.
Neurological conditions: muscle weakness can be caused by cerebrovascular disease such as stroke and brain haemorrhage and spinal injury. Tumours in the brain can also lead to muscle weakness. Muscles which become partially or completely paralysed lose their normal strength and will eventually waste. Some recovery is possible but it will be slow and may not be complete.
Spine-related conditions: when nerves are damaged as they emerge from the spine , weakness can result. When the discs slip out, they press on nerves headed lower down in the body. The weakness affects only the muscles served by the irritated or compressed nerve.
Other uncommon nerve conditions:Multiple sclerosis : this is caused by damage to nerves in the brain and spinal cord and can cause sudden paralysis. This can recover partially but does not always do so.
: this is a post-viral paralysing disease which causes weakness and loss of muscle function from the fingers and toes upwards. It may last many months, although complete recovery is usual.
Fatigue Cause No : Anemia
Anemia is one of the leading causes of fatigue in women. Menstrual blood loss can cause an iron deficiency, putting women at risk. Red blood cells are needed because they carry oxygen to your tissues and organs.
Fix: For anemia caused by an iron deficiency, taking iron supplements and eating iron-rich foods, such as lean meat, liver, shellfish, beans, and enriched cereal, can help.
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How Do People Cope With Exhaustion
Many people gradually come to learn how to regulate their energy better and to accept the changes associated with the condition. They pay more attention to their body’s signals and then adjust what kinds of activities they do based on their symptoms.
As well as the phases where the arthritis gets much worse, there are also periods where it’s possible to live a quite normal life. It often helps to start seeing the condition as a part of your life and to set new goals that you can still achieve anyway. Some people say that the disease has helped them to live their lives more consciously.
Many mention in interviews that they’ve discovered practical ways of dealing with :
- Learn to say “no” sometimes
- Don’t plan to do too much at once
- Reconsider and adapt your goals
- Plan activities carefully, take your time, spread out demanding tasks across the week.
- Take breaks before you become too exhausted
- Get to bed early, take naps and learn relaxation techniques
- Avoid going out at busy times of the day, for instance when you go shopping or on a trip
- Talk with others about your disease so that they can better understand how it affects you
- Talk to others who have rheumatoid arthritis so that you can learn from their experiences
Symptoms Of Fatigue In Inflammatory Arthritis
Just like there are many causes of fatigue, there are also many symptoms that may indicate what you have is inflammatory arthritis-related fatigue. Its very subjective and not quantifiable with a lab or measurable outcome, which is why fatigue can feel so frustrating and overwhelming, says Dr. Cohen. You cant quantify it, but you know its not normal.
Heres a look at some of the key symptoms to discuss with your health care team:
Dr. Khattri says that while symptoms of fatigue and feeling tired do overlap, fatigue is often at the extreme end. You feel like you have no control.
With normal tired you know sleep can fix it, says CreakyJoints community member Lel. Fatigue decides when its over youre just a helpless bystander.
Change in energy levels
While some patients wake up feeling fatigue, others experience sudden, overwhelming changes in energy levels and simply hit a wall.
RA fatigue stops me in my tracks. I feel myself fading out suddenly, then I have to rest . It feels like sandbags dropped on me, says CreakyJoints community member Kristina H. It hits me around the same time every day, or sometimes I wake up knowing its going to be a low energy day.
Increase in flares
Research shows that poor sleep can make the symptoms of fatigue worse, increasing sensitivity to pain, irritability, and making it that much harder to concentrate, says Dr. Cohen.
Reduced quality of life
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When To See A Doctor
In some cases, home treatment cant be enough to solve the problem of painful joints and muscles. If pain lasts for a week, it is important to see a healthcare provider. You might also want to make an appointment with your doctor in case of fever, vomiting, stiffness in your neck, difficulty swallowing, and inability to move that affects your daily life.
It is also possible to prevent sore muscles by staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and doing warmups before the workout.
In case you notice some symptoms of conditions described above, avoid self-medicating since it might only worsen your condition.
Hosted by the International Pain Foundation www.internationalpain.org
How Is A Pots Diagnosis Made
Problems with the autonomic nervous system can be difficult to diagnose. The standard test for POTS is the tilt table test. During the test, you are secured to a table that tilts from being horizontal to almost a 90-degree angle. The test measures your hearts response to switching from laying down to standing up. Some people with POTS faint during this test, even if they rarely faint standing up.
Although the test seems straightforward, many things can interfere with it. Its important that a POTS specialist oversees it. Its best to work with a doctor who has diagnosed and treated patients with POTS. This could be a cardiologist, a neuromuscular specialist or another doctor.
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Joint Pain And Fatigue What Could Be The Possibilities
Fatigue is usually characterized by extreme tiredness that even rest and relaxation cannot cure. A number of factors are responsible for fatigue, including conditions that cause joint pain.
It is important to note that different people have different pain thresholds. However, constant pain brought on by sore or damaged joints cause fatigue in most people. The diseases responsible for fatigue as a result of joint pain include fibromyalgia, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Joints can swell or become inflamed while performing certain activities. It can also lead to a chronic condition. The physical and emotional energy required to relieve the joint pain and continue with everyday activities tends to contribute to the fatigue. Painful joints will also prevent a patient from getting a good nights rest. Without good sleep, fatigue will be a natural consequence.
Develop Good Sleep Habits
There are well-known sleep tips, and you should follow themgo to bed at the same time each night, get up at the same time each day, establish a ritual so that your body will recognize it’s time to sleep . If you still have trouble falling or staying asleep, you may wish to discuss sleep medications with your healthcare provider.
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Role Of Inflammation In Fatigue
The mechanisms of fatigue are complex and have been studied in animal models and humans. Because fatigue could be explained by loss of muscle mass or altered mood, Norden et al. proposed a model to discriminate between these phenomena: some colon tumor-bearing mice demonstrated signs of fatigue and depressed mood , with no association with decreased normalized contractile properties of skeletal muscle of the limb. So fatigue seemed linked more to behavior than muscle activity.
Inflammation could play an important role . The injection of IL-1 in murine models decreased social exploration and increased hypersomnia and body weight loss, which were all improved by the administration of anti-inflammatory IL-1RA or IL-10 . Moreover, in the model of tumor-induced fatigue in mice seen earlier, fatigue was associated with increased levels of IL-1 and IL-6 in the brain, and treatment with minocycline, an anti-inflammatory agent, improved grip strength without reducing tumor growth or muscle mass .
Table 1 Possible mechanisms involved in fatigue
Damage To The Cartilage At The Back Of The Kneecap
Knee pain that feels worse when you go up or down stairs could be a sign of a damaged kneecap, called chondromalacia patellae.
This should not cause any redness or heat around the knee.
The cause is not understood, but it can be linked to overuse of the knee.
You can treat this problem yourself with anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, an icepack and rest.
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Talking To Your Doctor About Fatigue
There are several things that can reduce the impact of fatigue. Firstly, it helps if you can work out what could be causing it.
There arent any specific tests for fatigue. However, you can help your doctors diagnosis by writing down how you feel, what could be causing it and how its affecting your life. They may also be able to provide you with a self-assessment questionnaire to fill out.
Depending on your symptoms your doctor may recommend you have blood tests to check your fatigue hasnt been caused by another condition. If it has been, treating this condition may improve your fatigue.
There arent any specific drug treatments for fatigue. However, your doctor, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or rheumatology team, should be able to help you recognise the signs and learn to manage them.
Never Ignore Chronic Body Aches & Fatigue
Chronic body aches and fatigue can affect anyone- no matter what your age- and can be a quite stressful experience.
Some of the most common body aches include neck/back pain, muscle pain, headaches, and joint pain. In addition, there is neuropathic pain, which is a condition that results in a malfunction of the nervous system.
Chronic body aches and fatigue can be a serious medical condition that needs medical attention and should never be ignored.
Following are some of the most common causes of body aches and fatigue that you should be aware of.
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How Is Lupus Diagnosed
Doctors diagnose lupus by asking about symptoms and doing an exam. They’ll also do blood tests to look for:
- anemia and other blood problems
- proteins such as antinuclear antibodies , which are present in many people with lupus
Diagnosing lupus can be hard because it can affect almost any organ in the body, and symptoms vary widely from patient to patient.
Food Allergies Food Intolerance And Fatigue
Symptoms: Fatigue, sleepiness, continued exhaustion
Although food is supposed to give you energy, medical research suggests that hidden food intolerances — or allergies — can do the opposite. In fact, fatigue may be an early warning sign of food intolerance or food allergy. Celiac disease, which happens when you cant digest gluten, may also cause fatigue.
Ask your doctor about the elimination diet. This is a diet in which you cut out certain foods linked to a variety of symptoms, including sleepiness within 10 to 30 minutes of eating them, for a certain period of time to see if that makes a difference. You can also talk to your doctor about a food allergy test — or invest in a home test such as ALCAT — which may help you identify the offending foods.
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Seeing A Sleep Specialist
A sleep specialist will conduct a thorough evaluation and sleep study, in which you are monitored while sleeping, and then develop a treatment plan.
Your better sleep treatment plan may include medication as well as good sleep hygiene techniques â ways to prepare your body for sleep. Avoiding caffeine after lunch, not consuming alcohol within six hours of bedtime, and not smoking or using any type of nicotine product before bedtime are some sleep hygiene techniques. Experts may also teach you relaxation techniques and cognitive therapy, in which you learn to replace sleep worries with positive thoughts.
âWe also use a very powerful technology called âstimulus control,ââ says Auger. Essentially, stimulus control is a behavioral technique that limits the time you spend in bed.
“It teaches people to use the bedroom for sleep and sex, and to leave the bedroom after about 20 minutes if they canât fall asleep and engage in a relaxing activity,â he says. âIt can be as powerful as medications and possibly more powerful in the long term.â