Members of the senior class are more active than their predecessors, thanks to medical advancements and good health guidelines. However, aging does manifest itself with a slower gait, diminished muscle strength and an energy level that seems to get lower all the time. These are some typical signals that our bodies send out around the time of retirement.
A feeling that comes over many of us is tiredness. “I can’t do things like I used to,” you tell a friend. Although that is perfectly normal and to be expected, older adults should be aware of two conditions that go beyond tiredness: fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Certain physical activities can bring on temporary exhaustion, yet fatigue is an ongoing problem that affects our daily lives and the ability to accomplish our goals. In general, health care providers list common causes of fatigue:
No. 1: Lack of sleep. Everyone, especially seniors should try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
No. 2: Diet. Eat a balanced diet, including snacks, to sustain energy.
No. 3: Anemia. This condition is the leading cause of fatigue in women and can be helped with supplements and an iron-rich diet.
No. 4: Caffeine. This chemical stimulus can perk you up but later let you down.
No. 5: Diabetes. Persistent, unexplained fatigue can be a symptom and should be tested by your doctor.
No. 6: Urinary tract infections. Fatigue can be a sign of this infection that is treated with antibiotics.
It’s tempting at times to diagnose ourselves. After all, who knows our bodies better?
However, doctors warn that this could be a mistake, especially in the case of fatigue because of the broad range of flu-like symptoms. It’s best to leave it to the professionals.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition that defies explanation because it has a wide variety of symptoms and therefore can be difficult to diagnose. For years, doctors chased this elusive syndrome with test after test without much success at top research facilities such as the Mayo Clinic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Cleveland Clinic.
Patients have reported to their doctors a feeling of being tired all the time, aches and pains, and a sore throat. The list went on and on. In an effort to help identify chronic fatigue syndrome, the CDC has issued guidelines for diagnosis.
First is unexplained severe fatigue lasting at least six months. Second is four of eight symptoms must be present: malaise after physical exertion; impaired memory or concentration; unrefreshing sleep; muscle pain; painful joints without redness or swelling; tender cervical or auxiliary lymph nodes; sore throat; and headache.
Diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome is tricky and requires an expert. Because the conditions can affect any age group, seniors should not be shy about discussing the subject with their doctor.
Although there is currently no cure, treatment is available. If you think you have it, get help and get back into life.
Las Vegas resident Carolyn Schneider is the author of the book “Bing: On the Road to Elko” about her uncle Bing Crosby and his 15 years as a Nevada cattle rancher. She may be reached at 702-240-8570 or firstname.lastname@example.org to order the book.