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Ask Dr. Gott 3/2
Anemia may be the cause of chronic fatigue
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DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a 60-year-old woman. I have been told that I have chronic fatigue syndrome. What is this condition? What is the cause of this syndrome? Also, how do I get rid of this? Every two weeks, I get a blood test to see whether my blood count is high enough. If not, I receive a Procrit shot, which costs $1,500 each time. I thought these shots were for people with cancer, and I don't have any cancer. As for other meds, I take Synthroid and a couple of blood-pressure pills. I would be most grateful if you could give me some insight into this problem.
    DEAR READER: I believe that you are dealing with two issues here: chronic fatigue and anemia.
    Chronic fatigue syndrome is a medical disorder of unknown case, marked by persisting exhaustion, despite adequate sleep and the absence of identifiable medical problems. I do not think that this is your concern, because chronic anemia almost always causes fatigue.
    I am more concerned about what is causing your anemia. Are you losing blood? Not making enough red blood cells? Could your immune system be destroying blood cells inappropriately?
    Your primary-care physician should order a complete panel of blood tests to identify the cause of your difficulty, and he or she should definitely involve a hematologist in the search for a diagnosis. A bone-marrow study may be indicated. Also, you may respond to iron therapy in place of the more expensive Procrit. Don't delay. Ask your doctor to do what needs to be done and let me know the results.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Blood: Donations and Disorders." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I have post-herpetic neuralgia, for which my doctor prescribed Neurontin, without benefit. I am miserable. Do you have any suggestions? My doctor tells me "to live with it."
    DEAR READER: Chronic-pain syndrome from shingles or diabetes has, in the past, been difficult to treat, even with prescription analgesics. I suggest that you ask your physician to consider prescribing Lyrica, a new drug that holds great promise in relieving the pain of post-herpetic neuralgia and diabetic peripheral neuropathy. You shouldn't be expected to "live with" chronic pain if there are solutions available. You can bet your bippy that if your doctor had post-shingles nerve pain, he or she would be standing in line to try any new treatment or to refill a prescription for narcotics. Give me a follow-up on Lyrica.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Managing Chronic Pain."
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