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Healthwise Maui

Q: What can I do to feel less tired?

Dr. Linda M. Tetor, family practice, Kihei Wailea Medical Center: It’s normal to feel tired now and then, especially if you’ve had a late night, are working harder than usual, or are coming down with a cold. If you find yourself feeling tired all the time, or you’re having trouble managing work or family responsibilities because of low energy, there might be something else going on, and it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.

Of course, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. How many hours you need depends on your age and body, but most adults need six to nine hours a night. Sleep deprivation is directly linked to a number of health issues, including weight gain, depression, impaired cognitive function and a weakened immune system.

If you’re getting enough sleep and still feeling tired, there are a number of conditions that might be to blame. Fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, diabetes and even allergies can all cause fatigue. Feeling tired in the morning also can be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition that interrupts your sleep throughout the night, leading you to get a poor-quality sleep and feeling less rested. Finally, if you find yourself exhausted after physical activity, especially after exercise that should be easy, like walking upstairs, talk with your doctor — it could be a sign of heart disease or other medical issues.

Q: My child has asthma. When should we consider using a preventative medication, and are there any health risks from long-term use?

Dr. Linda M. Tetor, family practice, Kihei Wailea Medical Center: For some people, a rescue medication like albuterol is enough to manage asthma symptoms. If your child is having to use rescue medication more than twice a week, it might be time to talk with your doctor about putting them on a preventative medication that they take every day.

One of the most common types of asthma preventers is a daily inhaled steroid. Some parents worry that taking a steroid could affect their child’s growth. There have been many studies that show that, at low dose, these types of medications are safe and have no significant effect on the child’s eventual height. It’s also good to remember that they don’t have the same effects as oral steroids. Most doctors will try to decrease the dose amount over time if the medication seems to be achieving the desired result of controlling symptoms.

Some kids’ asthma is triggered by allergies, so taking allergy medication may be another option for controlling symptoms long term.

* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealthsystem.org/contact.