What you should know about adrenal fatigue
If you put in a solid working week, have a busy family life and still manage to be a social butterfly, you probably accept tiredness and stress as just a part of life. But if you feel like you never bounce back, you might want to find out more about adrenal fatigue.
What is it?
Dr James L Wilson, a Canadian doctor, scientist and lecturer who holds three doctorates and has written a book on adrenal fatigue, coined the term 16 years ago to describe a syndrome with a collection of symptoms that amount to feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
If that sounds like you, run through this checklist:
- Tiredness, especially in the early morning and afternoon
- Feeling stressed and run down
- Dependence on stimulants like coffee
- Craving salty or sweet food
- Decreased libido
- Muscle weakness
- Poor memory and concentration
- Increased symptoms of PMS or menopause
- Skin problems
- Lowered immunity
It’s been estimated that as many as 80 percent of people in developed western nations may suffer from adrenal fatigue, but some say the hormone test commonly used by doctors to check for adrenal gland problems only recognises over or under-production of hormone levels at extreme ends of the bell curve.
We were fortunate to have a visit from Dr Wilson and local integrative medical practitioner, Dr Kathleen Wills who showed us three simple adrenal fatigue tests you can do at home to help identify whether or not you might have adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue results from inadequate function of the adrenal glands and is linked to prolonged or acute stress. It can also be a by-product of infection, some respiratory illnesses, surgery, or exposure to toxic chemicals over time. Our chemical database tells you about which to avoid.
So what do adrenal glands do?
Our adrenal glands sit above each kidney and secrete hormones that do vital things, like helping convert food into energy, normalise blood sugar, respond to stress, maintain normal blood pressure, regulate the body’s salt and water balance and help produce estrogen and testosterone.
BioHealth Diagnostics has some more information on adrenal function if you want to delve a bit deeper.
Things that commonly stress your adrenals are sleep deprivation or sleep cycle disruption, surgery or injury, chronic illness and pain, nutritional deficiencies, allergies and too much exercise.
What can you do?
The good news is there’s a comeback to proper adrenal function - but don’t be too hasty to treat the symptoms instead of the cause.
Fatigue is a symptom in conditions like anaemia, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, thyroid problems, hormone-related illness and cardiac disease – and there are other afflictions associated with adrenal glands. Those include the even more serious condition Addison’s Disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency.
See a doctor about what’s causing your fatigue and stress - and look into lifestyle changes.
Addressing the causes can be complemented by getting rest when it’s needed, a programme of regular exercise and a healthy diet. Yes, that might mean not drinking so much coffee and not turning to sweet or salty foods to get by!
And you can eat smaller amounts more regularly to keep up blood sugar levels.
Reducing tiredness and stress is a good first step. One of our Pinterest boards, Mind, Body, Spirit has tips for de-stressing, simplifying your life, setting boundaries, ways to beat sugar cravings, foods to energise your life and practising mindfulness in the midst of busyness.