Fatigued? Start here. Always.

Fatigue is a very common complaint in doctor’s offices.

The first thing that your doctor, or any doctor, should check for is anemia.

This step should NEVER be skipped.

(And, you should never assume your doctor has checked you for this, either, so ask.)

What is anemia?

This means your red blood cell count or hemoglobin is low.

Basically what happens is there’s not enough oxygen travelling though your body and you’ll feel fatigue.

Other common symptoms of anemia include:

  • rapid heartbeat,
  • headache,
  • shortness of breath,
  • dizziness,
  • difficulty concentrating,
  • pale skin,
  • cold hands and feet,
  • leg cramps,
  • chest pain, and
  • insomnia.

If you have more than one or two of these symptoms you might have anemia as the root cause of your fatigue.

Diagnosing anemia requires a simple blood test called a CBC – Complete Blood Count.

Any doctor can run this test for you.

I have anemia. What should I do next?

First, most doctors will jump right in and start prescribing iron supplements or B12 injections.

This is wrong.

It never answers the question “Why are you anemic in the first place?”

The WHY is very important, otherwise the iron and B12 act only as a band-aid, temporary solution.

You don’t want a band-aid.

You want answers.

These are the questions a great Functional Medicine doctor should explore next:

  • Are you not getting enough iron/B12 from your diet?
  • Is iron/B12 not being absorbed properly? (H. pylori infection in the stomach is a common reason for this, as is silent Celiac disease.)
  • Is iron/B12 being used up faster than it is getting put in? (Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, or SIBO, is a common reason for this. The bacteria feed on the iron and steal it from you.)
  • Are you leaking iron/B12 from somewhere? (A bleeding ulcer or a bleeding polyp will cause you to lose blood and iron/B12. This blood loss is usually not visible in your stool.)

Even something as seemingly simple as anemia needs to be explored deeper to find the root, underlying cause.

Anemia can be the first and only warning sign of something seriously wrong, like cancer or silent Celiac disease.

Anemia should always been taken seriously and investigated fully. Period.

In the case of iron deficiency, this includes scoping the entire digestive tract for bleeding, and being tested for silent Celiac disease and H. pylori infection. If your doctor has not done these things, or recommended that you do these things, you need to find a new doctor.

Lastly, if any of your family members have anemia too, you should automatically be checked for Celiac disease, non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, and pernicious anemia. These are all more common than you might think, and usually go undiagnosed.

In fact, you may be the first member of your family to be properly diagnosed for the cause of your anemia, and the underlying cause of your fatigue.


Dr. Carri Drzyzga, DC, ND – The Functional Medicine Doc

Find the Cause. Fix the Cause. Feel Normal Again!


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