America's Fastest Marathoner came down with Chronic Fatigue- How Can that Happen?

chronic fatigue impacts marathoner

The New York Times reported today that Olympic hopeful marathon runner, Ryan Hall, was retiring from competitive racing after he disclosed he had been suffering from Chronic Fatigue. This was a personal blow to this incredible athlete and also a blow to the United States Olympic team’s hope for a medal at the upcoming Olympics.

How Can a World Class Athlete Develop Chronic fatigue?

While it is true that most elite athlete’s have the benefit of coaches that advise them on everything from their training regimen to their diet. Even elite athletes are human and susceptible to human frailties. The reports in Ryan Hall’s case has been that he possibly over trained for many years literally ‘running down his body’ and that it was revealed he suffered from low testosterone blood level.

Hormone Imbalance

At Mitchell Medical Group, we specialize in diagnosing Chronic fatigue and as part of our comprehensive evaluation look very carefully at our patient’s hormone levels. These include the key hormones produced by the thyroid gland, adrenal gland and the sex glands. They all produce critical hormones that affect your entire metabolism and muscle strength. Ryan Hall declined to take testosterone replacement therapy for reasons of conflict with his sport’s drug policy and also for reasons of possible infertility caused by testosterone replacement. However, patients that are suffering with chronic fatigue who are hypothyroid(underactive) or with adrenal dysfunction(adrenal glands not producing adequate levels) can present with debilitating fatigue. The key in these situations is to replace the low level of hormones as safely as possible to restore proper hormone imbalance.

  • A patient with an underactive thyroid may present not only with fatigue, but with weight gain, hair loss or brittle nails.
  • A patient with adrenal dysfunction tends to run a low blood pressure and can have severe sugar or salt cravings.
  • A patient with low testosterone along with fatigue can have a low libido.

All of the above are correctable with proper treatment- but you have to be tested to know!

You may wonder, why fatigue is so prevalent as the presenting symptom in so many cases? The answer is that our muscles use a tremendous amount of metabolic energy to propel our body and when intricate hormones are at sub-therapeutic levels they are essentially “starved” and stop functioning.

The Undetected Infection

The other main source of chronic fatigue in an otherwise healthy person tends to be an occult infection with a virus or tick-borne bacteria. At Mitchell Medical Group we carefully screen patients for a variety of common viruses including: Epstein-Barr, Hepatitis A,B and C and especially tick-borne bacteria including Lyme disease and some of the lesser know tick diseases such as Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis. These infections may have occurred years before and only recently manifested into physical symptoms. This is very frustrating to patients who barely remember being sick years before and now feeling terrible. The difficulty in treating these patients with typical medications, such as antibiotics is that they aren’t effective for past infections. Our immunological approach in the practice, allows us to help patients battling with chronic fatigue, muscle pains and general malaise with Immunoglobulin- a special immune preparation that has shown to help lower inflammation and keep the immune system strong.

We are All Marathoners in the Game of Life

I have come to the conclusion that most of my patients I see everyday are true warriors- they have been battling for years with debilitating symptoms of fatigue or pain and doing their best. My job as a holistic physician is to make sure my patients cross that finish line with their head held up high that they have done everything possible to become healthy and live their lives the best they can.

- Dr. Dean Mitchell

Categories: Chronic Fatigue

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