Do you take on more than you can handle?
Do you live with constant stress, or unresolved
conflict? Are you low on energy and "just not
feeling right?" If so, you may be suffering with
adrenal fatigue - 80% of us will at some point
in our lives!
My personal experience with Adrenal Fatigue:
I worked too hard, put others first, and pushed until my body said, "no more." When traditional medicine failed to offer a cure for a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome , I began to explore alternative and natural healing options. A naturopathic physician I met with explained that the symptoms I had been experiencing: extreme fatigue, weakness, dizziness/vertigo, migraines, and short term memory loss were commonly the result of an adrenal systjem that has been pushed beyond its limits. It has been a long, slow process, but educating myself about the function of the adrenal glands, and what I can to to support these vital glands, eventually led me to improved health and healing. I found that eating well, reducing stress, and living in acceptance of my body's limitations led to a healthier, happier, more peaceful life. ~ Andrea ( My Story )
The adrenals are walnut-sized glands that sit at the top of each kidney. These tiny glands play an important role in our health as they are the control center for more than 50 hormones. In addition they are responsible for energy production, fluid and electrolyte balance, and fat storage.
The adrenals work with other hormones and systems in the body, and after menopause and andropause (men), they pick up the slack by producing larger amounts of sex hormones. Good adrenal function is linked to longevity.
The adrenal cortex, the outer layer of the gland, produces cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone - hormones that are resonsible for everything from keeping the body's systems in balance, to controlling the strength of the immune system, as well as normalizing blood sugar, regulating blood pressure, and energy levels.
The center of the glands produces adrenaline, which releases stored energy, increases heart rate and blood pressure, slows digestion and sharpens your senses. You have probably heard the term, flight or fight response - this is the body's response to a dangerous or stressful situation, and was intended to help the body cope with rare or short-term stress situations. But given our hectic and tension-filled lives today, the adrenals are often overworked, which can result in adrenal insufficiency/adrenal fatigue.
Some of the challenges that over-burden the adrenals are obvious, such as illness, relationship/money/work issues, and lack of sleep. But unresolved emotional issues, digestive problems, yo-yo dieting or skipping meals, even reliance on stimulants like coffee and carbs can also contribute to adrenal fatigue.
The following symtpom list is helpful for understanding the patterns of Adrenal Fatigue:
- Morning fatigue -- You don't really seem to "wake up" until 10 a.m., even if you've been awake since 7 a.m.
- Afternoon "low" (feelings of sleepiness or clouded thinking) from 2 to 4 p.m.
- Burst of energy at 6 p.m. -- You finally feel better from your afternoon lull.
- Sleepiness at 9 to 10 p.m. -- However, you resist going to sleep.
- "Second wind" at 11 p.m. that lasts until about 1 a.m., when you finally go to sleep.
- Cravings for foods high in salt and fat
- Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
- Mild depression
- Lack of energy
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Muscular weakness
- Increased allergies
- Lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or laying down position
- Decreased sex drive
- Frequent sighing
- Inability to handle foods high in potassium or carbohydrates unless they're combined with fats and protein
Can Food Allergies & Sensitivities Contribute to Adrenal Fatigue?
It is not uncommon that people with adrenal fatigue to also suffer with allergies and sensitivities. Continued exposure to foods, or anything that initiates an immune response by the body, leading to over-activity that can have a detrimental affect on both the immune and adrenal systems.
Symptoms of Food & Environmental Intolerances:
- feeling of fullness in the head
- excessive drowsiness or sleepiness soon after eating
- runny/stuffy nose
- watery eyes
- blurring of vision
- darkness under eyes
- ringing in ears
- fullness in ears
- hearing loss
- recurrent ear infections
- recurrent sinusitis
- increased/rapid heart rate
- nausea /vomiting
- bloating alter meals
- belching/flatulence (gas)
- feeling of fullness in the stomach long after finishing a meal
- abdominal pains or cramps
- chronically fatigued
- muscle weakness
- muscle aches and pains
- joint aches and pains
- swelling of the hands, feet, or ankles
- anxiety attacks
- learning disabilities
- inability to concentrate
- cloudy or foggy thinking
If you suspect you have food allergies and or sensitivities, Muscle Testing is a useful technique for identifying the problem foods and other substances that may be weakening your immune system and adrenal fucntion.
The following SELF-TEST METHOD is recommended by Dr. Wilson of Adrenal Fatique.org:
- Ragland's sign (blood pressure test) -- (Equipment required: Home blood pressure kit) Take your blood pressure while sitting down. Then, stand up and immediately take your blood pressure again. Your systolic (first) number should have raised 8 to 10 mm. If it dropped, you probably have adrenal fatigue.
- Pupil dilation exam -- (Equipment required: Flashlight and a mirror) Look into the mirror and shine the flashlight into the pupil of one eye. It should contract. If after 30 seconds, it stays the same or, even worse, dilates, you most likely have adrenal fatigue.
- Pain when pressing on adrenal glands (located over kidneys)
"Optimal adrenal health is one of the major keys to the enjoyment of life. If you have adrenal fatigue, you can fully live life again by making the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes to treat your disorder." ~ Dr. Wilson, AdrenalFatigue.org
- Sleeping until 9 a.m. as often as possible
- Lying down during your work breaks (preferably at 10 a.m. and again anytime from 3 to 5 p.m.)
- Minimizing stress
- Taking negative people out of your life
- Eating regular meals
- Chewing well
- Doing something fun each day
- Combining unrefined carbohydrates with protein and oils
- Avoiding junk food
- Eating five to six servings of vegetables each day
- Taking calcium and magnesium supplements
- Adding sea salt to your diet
- Taking 2,000 to 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day
- Supplementing vitamin E with mixed tocopherols
- Taking B-complex supplements that are high in B6 and pantothenic acid
- Adding licorice root extract to your dietary supplement regimen
If you take your treatment plan seriously, you can expect your adrenal fatigue to heal in:
- 6 to 9 months for minor adrenal fatigue 12 to 18 months for moderate fatigue
- Up to 24 months for severe adrenal fatigue
Fatigue can be caused by many factors, including:
- Lack of sleep
Getting even an hour less than the sound slumber you need each night can leave you drowsy and unable to manage your daily routine. You may not go to bed early enough. Or more likely, you go to bed but can't sleep well. As you get older, it becomes harder to get uninterrupted sleep. You sleep less soundly. You awaken earlier.
- Stress and anxiety
If you're running from one task to the next without a break, it's eventually going to wear you down. Going through life anxious and on edge can keep you from relaxing and getting the rest you need.
You're too tired to exercise, so you don't. But then when you do exert yourself, you tire easily because you're out of shape. Engaging in moderate physical activity for a half-hour or longer most days of the week may decrease stress, improve mood and leave you feeling energized. Don't schedule your activity too close to bedtime, though, or you might have trouble falling asleep.
- Eating habits
If you're not eating properly or drinking enough fluids, your body isn't getting the fuel and fluid it needs. Trying to remedy this with caffeine can backfire, especially if you consume it late in the day. Caffeine not only makes it harder to fall asleep, it also interferes with sound sleep and may keep you tossing and turning throughout the night.
- Certain medications
Some medications, including many beta blockers and antihistamines, can cause fatigue. In addition, some cold medications and pain relievers contain caffeine and other stimulants that can keep you up at night.
To beat fatigue, try these tips:
- Reduce stress
Take some of the pressure out of your day. Learn to say no. Set priorities. Then organize your activities so that you avoid confusion. Pace yourself. Put aside time each day to do something you enjoy. Take a midday stroll around the block, or get up 15 minutes earlier to give yourself more time to start your day.
- Manage workplace tension
On-the-job aggravation can add to work-related fatigue. Sit down and try to resolve conflicts with co-workers. Become better acquainted with your boss and clarify what he or she needs from you. Be realistic about your limitations. Take time out to get up from your desk and stretch for a few moments several times a day.
- Be active
Try to include at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity in your day. Don't worry about doing a full workout all at once — start with 10 minutes of activity at a time. Whether you walk, garden or swim, once you get moving, you'll likely notice you have more stamina. While 30 minutes is the minimum recommendation, you may need up to an hour of moderate activity daily to maintain fitness and a healthy weight.
- Eat well
Start your day with a low-fat, high-fiber breakfast that includes plenty of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and fruits for lasting energy. Stay away from sugary cereals and juices and caffeinated drinks. They can make you feel sluggish later in the day. Don't skip meals; refuel every three or four hours. Very low calorie diets are guaranteed to increase fatigue.
- Avoid alcohol
Alcohol depresses your central nervous system and acts as a sedative, making you tired for hours after consuming no more than only a drink or two. It may also disrupt your sleep, if you drink just before bed.
- Practice good sleep habits
Avoid eating, reading or watching TV in bed. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet. And set your alarm for the same time each day — the routine can help you establish a regular sleep schedule. Naps are OK, but keep them short and early in the day. Schedule workouts at least six hours before bedtime. Small snacks may help you drift off, but large late-night meals can keep you up. If you can't sleep, don't toss and turn, go into another part of the house and read or relax until you feel drowsy.
When to see your doctor:
Sudden or persistent fatigue, despite adequate rest, may mean it's time for you to consult your doctor. Unrelenting exhaustion may be a sign of an underlying medical problem. In general, talk to your doctor if you're extremely tired or unable to regain your energy after several weeks of increased rest. Medical causes of fatigue can include:
This blood disorder results from a number of problems that affect your blood's ability to transport oxygen, causing fatigue.
Fatigue can be a symptom of cancer. A thorough checkup, including routine cancer screenings, can help rule out malignancy as a cause of your fatigue.
A loss of energy that's accompanied by any number of symptoms, including sadness, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, a lack of interest in pleasurable activities, and difficulty concentrating may be a part of depression.
Extreme fatigue can be a warning sign of diabetes. Signs and symptoms of diabetes, in addition to fatigue, include excessive thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision and recurring infections.
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may cause fatigue or make you too restless to sleep well. Antihistamines, cough and cold remedies, some antidepressants, and many other drugs may make you tired. Talk to your doctor if you suspect your medications are making you tired.
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
This condition is characterized by an inability to keep your legs still and by tingling or aching sensations in your legs, feet or arms. The symptoms generally occur at night, preventing sound sleep.
- Sleep apnea
Signs of this disorder include loud snoring, pauses between breaths and awakening frequently while gasping for air. It's a common source of fatigue because it interferes with sound sleep. Losing weight and quitting smoking may help, as well as an adjustment in sleeping position. Lying on your side or facedown may reduce snoring.
- Thyroid problems
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland fails to make or release enough thyroid hormone. Signs and symptoms include sluggishness, chronically cold hands and feet, constipation, dry skin and a hoarse voice. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid produces excessive amounts of hormone. Too much hormone also can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, weight loss, increased heart rate, nervousness and irritability.
- A diagnosis of exclusion: Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that doesn't improve with bed rest and may worsen with physical or mental activity. Of all chronic illnesses, chronic fatigue syndrome is one of the most mysterious. Severe and debilitating fatigue, muscle aches and difficulty concentrating are the most commonly reported symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. In some cases, low-grade fevers and swollen lymph nodes also may develop. A diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome is based on exclusion. This means that before arriving at a diagnosis, a doctor has ruled out any other disease or condition that may be causing your fatigue and related symptoms.
The preceeding information was originally available on the Mayo Clinic website, but they no longer offer a web page for Adrenal Fatigue.
Other articles of interest on Heal With Hope:
Stress, Allergies/Sensitivities, Chronic Fatigue,
EFT, Meditation, Mind/Body, Muscle Testing,
Reduce Toxic Exposure, Sleep Well,
Thyroid Disease, Visualization