Sue-Anne Hickey: Four hidden causes of fatigue

We live in a society of quick fixes. Got a headache? Take a pill. Feel tired? Drink another cup of coffee. Over the long term, these moments, when we choose to ignore our symptoms, add up and affect our overall quality of life. Fatigue is a particularly common symptom. Get to the bottom of it rather than relying on a quick fix and you’ll see great health benefits.

Here are four hidden causes of fatigue. Learn to overcome them and you’ll achieve optimal energy all day, every day, without the need for stimulants like coffee or sugar.

1. Hypoglycemia

Refined carbohydrates, such as white sugar or flour, offer short bursts of energy because they spike your glycemic levels. But after the quick fix, your blood sugar levels crash, resulting in hypoglycaemia. Long term, this can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. You may have no idea that you are hypoglycemic because when your blood sugar gets low, you simply reach for more food or another coffee.

You likely suffer from hypoglycemia if you feel any of the following when a meal is delayed:

  • Shaky
  • Dizzy
  • Trembling
  • Headaches
  • Foggy brain
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritable
  • Anxious

Increase your protein intake, especially at breakfast. Reduce sweets and refined carbohydrates.

2. A Sluggish liver

You are exposed to so many chemicals; in the air you breathe; on foods treated with pesticides and herbicides; in products you use on your body; in aspirin or other medications you take. The liver has to process these chemicals as well as alcohol, fried and fatty foods. All this alongside its 500 other functions. Many people have a liver congested from overwork. Some symptoms include waking up around 3 AM and feeling sleepy around 3 PM.

Your liver loves hot water and lemon in the morning because it helps eliminate toxins. Reduce your exposure to chemicals and avoid fatty or fried foods.

3. Adrenal fatigue

Are you “too wired” to fall asleep at night and sluggish when you wake up? Do you rely on coffee to get going? Is it hard for you to relax or exercise? Do you get sick often and take a long time to get well?

Most people experiencing adrenal fatigue will not feel awake until around 10 am and not be fully alert until after lunch. Their energy levels usually swoon again around 2-4 pm and pick up again around 6 pm. This fluctuation continues into the evening with fatigue setting in by 9 pm. Sometimes people end up falling asleep too early which can create difficulty falling asleep and intermittent waking during the night.

Some other signs of adrenal imbalance include decreased ability to handle stress and loud noises, and a lack of energy.

To restore adrenal balance you need more rest, protein, and B vitamins. There are other supplements that can help.

4. Dehydration

Fatigue is often simply caused by not drinking enough water. How much you need depends on:

  • Your size
  • Your lifestyle
  • How much exercise you do
  • How hot it is
  • How much you perspire
  • How much you talk
  • How much coffee, tea and alcohol you drink

Aim for 6 to 8 glasses per day. For each cup of coffee, tea, and alcohol, all of which act as diuretics, add an extra cup. The body has an innate ability to heal itself when given the proper tools. A few small changes taken slowly, one step at a time, will put you on the road to optimal health and high energy.

Sue-Anne Hickey is a certified naturopath and weight loss specialist. Her passion is in helping her clients heal their ailments naturally, lose weight, and regain their energy and happiness using a personalized body type plan. She has her office in Beaconsfield. Visit her online at or call her at 514-577-1963

(1) comment


It is a common belief that you have to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day, but this myth comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of some basic physiology. Read more at

The description of liver needing help with lemon water illustrates author's lack of knowledge of human physiology. And what about adrenal fatigue? This "condition" was invented by holistic practitioners to be able to treat vague symptoms that certain "stressed out " people experience at some point in their life. Adrenal supplements are very expensive and have not been rigorously tested for safety or efficacy. They don't need to be as they are natural of course.

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