4 Common Causes of Unexplained Fatigue and How to Troubleshoot Them

Lyme Disease

A not-so-fun side effect of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses is the reactivation of certain viruses in the body (like Epstein-Barr). So there's the potential that a runner could contract Lyme disease, which reactivates the EBV virus, and that debilitating fatigue is suddenly accelerated.  Even on its own, Lyme disease can cause fever, rash, joint pain, flu-like symptoms, headaches and, of course, fatigue.

Diagnosing Lyme Disease

If you've been experiencing extreme fatigue and have been near a tick habitat in grassy or wooded areas, had a tick bite or developed a red expanding rash, it may be time to see a doctor to rule out Lyme disease. Because many of the symptoms for Lyme disease are often found in other conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor may order lab tests to identify antibodies that can confirm the diagnosis. The tests are most reliable a few weeks after an infection, after your body has begun to develop antibodies. 

Treating Lyme Disease

If you do have a confirmed case of Lyme disease, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. In general, the quicker you can get diagnosed and begin treatment, the more rapid your recovery will be. Many patients begin to feel better after two to four weeks of antibiotics, though some may have lingering fatigue or muscle soreness. 

Autoimmune Diseases

Adult onset of autoimmune diseases is surprisingly common. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus), Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Celiac Disease and Addison's Disease are some of the most common ones, but there are over 70 additional autoimmune disorders. Though each is unique, they often present with very similar symptoms of inflammation, fever and fatigue. No one is sure what causes these diseases, but you may be more susceptible to develop them if you have a family member with one. 

Diagnosing Autoimmune Diseases

If you've ruled out low iron and EBV/Lyme, you may consider getting blood work done by a rheumatologist.  After discussing your symptoms, the doctor will order additional tests to confirm or rule out the various autoimmune disorders as a cause for your fatigue. 

Treating Autoimmune Diseases

Depending on the results of your blood work, you and your doctor will decide how to manage any findings going forward. For some disorders, such as Celiac Disease, a modification to your diet may be enough to reverse the symptoms and put you on the path to wellness. For others, additional medication may be necessary to return you to health. 

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