Why It May Be Adrenal Fatigue
Many of us have seem our health diminish after coming out of a cold and dreary winter season filled with unhealthy comfort foods. While you may just be chucking this up to a long winter you may actually be missing the many severe warning signs of Adrenal Fatigue. Your adrenal glands secrete 4 main hormones which effect just about EVERY bodily function. This is one of the main reasons that adrenal fatigue is often overlooked by most physicians or even diagnosed as a completely different disease. The symptoms of adrenal fatigue can range from decreased sexual drive, memory or concentration issues, dizziness, tiredness, digestive issues and can even disguise themselves as everyday coughs or colds.
Every woman knows that menopause can cause a host of these symptoms, which makes sense because it is another form of hormone imbalance. The issue occurs when women begin to notice their symptoms from adrenal fatigue around the time of menopause. Many physicians will group all the symptoms together as an estrogen or progesterone issue and not even consider looking at your adrenal hormone levels, such as cortisol. Your doctor may even offer you unneeded medications, like antidepressants, when they have trouble treating your “menopause” symptoms through their conventional methods. I will provide you with enough information to understand the basics of adrenal fatigue and hopefully it can help some of you women find the path to get the help you need.
Understanding the Basics of Adrenal Fatigue
Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and are responsible for secreting the hormones related to stressful situations – namely cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones were very important when we had to make quick decisions when it came to running or fighting off a predator. You may be more familiar with this process being called the “flight-or-fight” response.
Nowadays, most of our life stressors or more chronic and less immediate then our ancestors though. This may include paying bills, a stressful working situation, environmental toxins or even consuming an improper diet. The issue arises because your body does not separate chronic stressors, such as these, from immediate forms of danger. Your adrenals become overloaded during these periods and can eventually burn themselves out if nothing is done. This is when you begin to experience the symptoms associated with adrenal disorders. Many individuals will turn to stimulants such as caffeine or sugar to mask the issue but that can be a detrimental mistake in the long run.
This whole series of non-specific symptoms has been acknowledged as the 21st century disease, and it’s become so commonplace it has been recognized by the World Health Organization. The good news is that adrenal fatigue is not permanent or untreatable like some professionals believed in the past. It can be managed and can even be beaten with proper treatment. If you catch it early enough, it can even be treated using natural methods and may be as simple as changing your diet.
The complicated part is diagnosing these symptoms as adrenal fatigue because your adrenal glands secrete over 50 hormones into your body. These include sex hormones such as progesterone, estrogen and testosterone, albeit at low levels, which is why it is often mistaken as menopause or a natural part of the aging process. Most individuals discover their adrenal issues only after seeing a specialist who recognizes the signs and orders certain tests to measure specific hormone levels related to your adrenal glands. It is important to understand that a VAST majority of physicians will not recognize these symptoms as adrenal fatigue and will not order the proper tests needed to diagnose it!
Common Symptoms Associated With Adrenal Fatigue
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- Inability to cope with everyday stress
- Poor sleep quality (feeling tired after a full nights rest)
- Constantly feeling rundown or overwhelmed
- Brain fog
- Memory issues or lack of concentration
- Slow recovery time to injury, exercise, illness or stress
- Stomach and GI tract issues
- Constantly getting sick or fighting off sickness
- Lack of stamina
- Feeling most awake or alert at night rather than during the day
- Inability to stay asleep
- Inability to go to sleep
- Craving salty and sweet foods
- Low Blood Pressure
- Extreme sensitivity to cold
- Food allergies
- PMS or menopause like symptoms
A major problem for many individuals is the solace they get from poor lifestyle choices that they make while stressed. Whether it be emotional eating, lethargic sloth after work or the attempt to drown stress out with drugs or alcohol, the choices we make when feeling burdened in our lives often make your inability to cope with your stressors much worse. You may not realize how much physical demand that consuming unhealthy products puts on your body and your immune system. One of the first steps to curing your adrenal issues, whether you seek medical treatment or not, is to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. It may not be the most glamorous route but it is the most time proven and all-around beneficial.
Beginning of Adrenal Fatigue Recovery
Get Your Hormone Levels Tested
First and foremost get ALL of your hormone levels tested before trying to treat any sort of hormone imbalance. If your hormone levels are out of balance or insufficient in any way then you are putting a lot extra and unneeded stress on your body. This is especially true if you are estrogen dominant. Adrenal fatigue will affect the function of estrogen, testosterone and progesterone and if any of these hormones are out of balance then you will have much more trouble coping with stressors. Many symptoms that arise at menopause are a response to estrogen dominance, adrenal fatigue and low thyroid so taking some preventive measures really will helps.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
The food and drinks you consume can play a MAJOR role on hormonal balance in your body. Your hormone production is so closely regulated by the food you consume that even the containers you keep food in can have an impact on your hormone levels. You want your diet to consist of foods that are high in protein, healthy fats and oils and vegetables. You also want to avoid processed foods, sugars, unhealthy fat and alcohol as much as possible. Certain exercises and relaxation techniques can help to relieve stress and vastly improve both your hormone balance and overall health.
Additional supplements that are helpful include DHEA, magnesium, a good high dosage B complex and at least a gram of vitamin C a day. Some herbs are also traditionally known to support the adrenals, the immune system and help protect the body from physical, mental or emotional stress. These include:
1 Siberian Ginseng which has the ability to reduce fatigue, increase energy, and enhance mental clarity.
2 Rhodiola which is a medicinal plant used for centuries in Russia and Scandinavia to enhance immune function, and reduce fatigue.
3 Cordyceps — an East Asian extract used to promote overall good health and, more specifically, to replenish immune system function. It also appears to act as an antioxidant in the body, protecting it from free-radical damage.