No energy? Feeling exhausted? You’re not alone: Nearly one-third of Americans report significant fatigue, accounting for 7 million doctor visits every year.
Logic would say that you’re just not getting enough sleep, right? Lack of sleep or certain medical conditions can certainly be culprits, but so can these four surprising energy-stealers:
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Two-thirds of the world’s population–over 4.5 billion people–have bad bacteria known as H. Pylori living in their stomach. This harmful bacteria can be a major source of fatigue. Your stomach’s inner lining produces acid to digest food, while simultaneously creating protective mucus to guard from this acid. H. pylori bacteria invade the stomach, destroying your protective mucus layer and leaving you vulnerable to ulcers, or tiny sores on the stomach’s lining. While you sleep, acid can escape the stomach through these ulcers and flow up into your esophagus, causing a sore throat and ruining your ability to get deep, restorative sleep. Additionally, as blood escapes from the ulcers, it may cause anemia, further lowering your energy throughout the day.
Fortunately, H. Pylori infection is easy to detect and treat. A simple breath test from your doctor will detect the bacteria. Antibiotics can kill the bad bacteria and acid-reducing medications will treat the ulcers. You can also try taking antacids before bed; if they seem to lead to a better night’s sleep, it may indicate the presence of H. Pylori.
Many of us turn to coffee or tea for a morning pick-me-up, but it could be the cause of your fatigue for two reasons. First, when consumed in excess, coffee causes a surge in your metabolism, followed by a crash. Second, caffeine has a dehydrating effect. When you wake up, you tend to already be dehydrated from not drinking water for hours. If you don’t consume any other beverages, your coffee could cause further dehydration and drain your energy. The key is to drink caffeine in moderation and to drink a full 8-ounce glass of water around the same time as your morning cup of joe to stay hydrated.