What Causes Low Energy in Men?
Just Too Tired
Everyone has phases of low energy when we just want to veg out on the couch. But prolonged mental and physical fatigue and chronic low energy can be a sign of serious health problems. Men have a unique set of reasons why they may experience fatigue for more than a few weeks at a time.
Low T Troubles
Men gradually produce less testosterone as they age. Testosterone works hard in the body, maintaining everything from bone density to muscle mass to sex drive and beyond. A significant drop in testosterone levels can result in a reduced sex drive, increased body fat, decreased motivation, and sleep problems like insomnia. These symptoms can add up to chronic low energy and mental and physical fatigue.
Therapy is now available to supplement testosterone. Blood tests are necessary to see if you suffer from low testosterone. A discussion with your doctor is important for getting at the causes of low testosterone-related symptoms, as well as the appropriate form of treatment.
Hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormone, can also wreak havoc on your energy levels. This condition may be due to an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your thyroid. While it is more common in women, but it can occur in men and become severe if early symptoms are ignored.
Hypothyroidism symptoms include fatigue, sensitivity to cold, constipation, weight gain, muscle aches, dry skin, thinning hair, and depression. Interestingly, low levels of thyroid hormone can lead to low levels of testosterone, linking the two problems and the possibility for experiencing fatigue. Treating low thyroid hormone may improve fatigue as well as other symptoms. Treatment may also help prevent complications like goiter, heart disease, and neuropathy.
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can also cause fatigue due to a racing heart and an overtaxed system.
Your fatigue may be due simply to a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality. According to the National Sleep Foundation, we sleep 20 percent less than we did a century ago. You may be fatigued if you don’t have good sleep habits, work at night and sleep during the day, or simply skip sleep altogether to get more done.
However, even if you give yourself the time to get enough sleep, you may be suffering from sleep disorders that prevent you from gaining quality sleep. Sleep-disordered breathing and sleep apnea can rob you of sleep quality by constantly disrupting your sleep and preventing restful sleep. Restless leg syndrome is another disorder that can negatively affect sleep.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 6 million men have depression each year. Depression is a psychological condition that can affect anyone. Symptoms include feeling sad, empty or hopeless, a loss of interest in the world, difficulty concentrating, sleep difficulties, decreased energy, fatigue and feeling “slowed down.”
Depression is a treatable condition. Counseling and medication are widely available and effective. It can be dangerous to not seek treatment for depression. Severe depression that goes untreated can potentially result in self-harm or even suicide.
Iron deficiency anemia and other forms of anemia are usually more common in women than men. However, they are a cause of chronic low energy and fatigue. Low iron levels in men can be the result of a vegetarian diet or frequent blood donation. Other forms of anemia may result from vitamin deficiencies such as low levels of B12.
Iron deficiency anemia symptoms include extreme fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, and tingling in the hands and feet. Complications can include irregular heartbeat and increased susceptibility to infections.
Fatigue can be an important symptom of deeper health issues. Conditions that can cause fatigue include:
- liver failure
- kidney failure
- heart disease
- type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- chronic fatigue syndrome
Medications can also cause fatigue, including certain pain medications, heart medications, blood pressure drugs, and some types of antidepressants. Fatigue can also result from excessive caffeine consumption, alcohol abuse, and the use of antihistamines and cough medications.
Eating for Energy
Fatigue may be the result of simply poor diet and a lack of exercise. You may think that exercise is the last thing you want to do when you have low energy. However, getting the blood pumping with just a 30-minute walk can put a spring in your step. Regular exercise can decrease fatigue and improve your sleeping patterns.
Diet is a big factor in fighting fatigue. Make sure to eat breakfast. A diet of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean protein, and plenty of water can give you much more energy. Fried food, high-fat foods, and highly processed foods like candy, chips, and soda should be avoided. These foods can drain energy levels and give you sugar highs and lows that result in fatigue.
- Combating Fatigue: Diet, Exercise and Sleep. (2013). National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.ncpad.org/82/607/Combating~Fatigue~~Diet~~Exercise~~Sleep
- Depression in Men. (2013). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/men-and-depression/depression-in-men.shtml
- Fatigue. (2013, February 27). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fatigue/MY00120/DSECTION=causes
- Fatigue and Excessive Sleepiness. (2013). National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/excessive-sleepiness-and-sleep
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). (2012, December 1). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypothyroidism/DS00353/DSECTION=symptoms
- Iron deficiency anemia. (2011, March 4). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/iron-deficiency-anemia/DS00323
- Kumar, A. et al. (2007, February). Hypoandrogenaemia is associated with subclinical hypothyroidism in men. International Journal of Andrology, 30(1), 14-20. Retrieved July 15, 2013 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2605.2006.00705.x/abstract
- Testosterone therapy: Key to male vitality? (2012, April 10). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 15, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/testosterone-therapy/MC0003