Are you unknowingly a victim of unnecessary Adrenal Fatigue? Do you constantly feel tired, moody and depressed? Do you wake up feeling tired even after a full night’s rest? Do you crave sugary and salty foods, and depend on your morning coffee just to keep your eyes open? These are all signs of Adrenal Fatigue. But guess what? You are not alone! It’s estimated that up to 80% of adults suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, yet it continues to be a largely ignored and overlooked health problem.
Many individuals seek help from their medical doctor because the exhaustion is too much to bare and is often accompanied by more than one symptom. The MD usually runs a few labs in addition to a physical examine and then sends you home because everything looks “normal”, advising you come back in a few months if the symptoms worsen. Sound familiar? The patient then leaves feeling defeated because they’re dealing with some sort of ‘mystery’ and the worst part – they continue to suffer.
Most conventional physicians were not taught about Adrenal Fatigue in medical school so they do not look at it as a serious threat to your health nor are they prepared for it. Those of us in Functional Health, however, know that this is not a ‘mystery’ and have a different approach. We are focused on teaching people the root cause of their health problems, including fatigue. We know that there’s actually a great deal that is under our control and we know the negative impact Adrenal Fatigue can have on you and we are here to help.
What is Adrenal Fatigue? A term used when fatigue and other symptoms are caused by poorly working adrenal glands in people who are under mental, emotional, or physical stress. Your adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, act as control centers for many hormones. One of their most important tasks is to get your body ready for the “fight or flight” stress response, which means increasing adrenaline and other hormones. This response increases your heart rate and blood pressure, slows your digestion and basically gets your body ready to face a potential threat or challenge. While this response is good when it’s needed, many of us are constantly faced with stressors (work, environmental toxins, not enough sleep, worry, anxiety) and are in this “fight or flight” mode for far too long — much longer than ever intended. If the adrenal glands are exhausted, they are unable to produce adequate quantities of hormones.
These are the most common symptoms associated with Adrenal Fatigue:
- Mild depression or anxiety
- Lethargy and lack of energy
- Increased effort to perform daily tasks
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Brain fog
- Dry and thin skin
- Low blood sugar
- Low body temperature
- Muscle or bone loss
- Weight gain
Here are the most common Q&A’s when addressing Adrenal Fatigue:
Is there testing that can be done so you’re not guessing? Yes! A comprehensive hormone panel test to check your levels of cortisol over a 24-hour period. My favorite is the D.U.T.C.H. test. In healthy adrenal function, cortisol should be elevated in the morning, lower and steady throughout the day, and then should drop in the evening when you go to sleep. In people with adrenal fatigue, however, cortisol levels remain elevated throughout the day and rise in the evening when you should be relaxing. In chronic cases, it’s possible to see your cortisol as a ‘flatline’, where it’s low all day.
Can you stop, prevent or reverse it? These issues, although very concerning, can also be relieved when optimal adrenal function is restored. And the good news is, it can be restored. Along with decreasing chronic stress, adjusting our emotional responses to stressors, and changing what, when and how we eat, we can improve adrenal fatigue. At this time, your main focus should be your health and you should make time for things listed below, if you wish to start your journey on the road to recovery:
- Get more sleep
- Revamp your diet with healthy foods
- Cut out sugar, reduce caffeine and artificial stimulants
- Consider supplements for adrenal health
- Reduce stress
How long does it take to recover? Well, it took some time for your adrenals to become fatigued so it will take some time to nurse them back to health. Most importantly, you must commit to changing your lifestyle to be less stressed and more restful if you want to get better. 4 – 6 months is the expected time frame for people to start seeing improvement. For best results, make an appointment with a knowledgeable health care provider who can work with you on an individualized course of lifestyle modification and other treatment.
So, be kind to yourself. It’s time to do something about Adrenal Fatigue because chances are you’re dealing with it.
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