What is Adrenal Fatigue/Insufficiency?
Adrenal Fatigue (AF), is the final result of a combination of lifestyle, diet and stressors which can be physical, chemical or emotional in nature. These detrimental factors put excessive demands on the adrenal glands. When these adrenal glands (which sit on top of the kidneys), become fatigued and loose function, the individual will always feel tired – regardless of how much they rest or sleep. This disorder is not readily identifiable as many other diseases or disorders are; however, what is key is that you will feel a sense of never ending exhaustion some people express this as a “grey” feeling.
AF can deplete all quality of life. In the more severe cases of AF, the function of the adrenal glands is so reduced that many individuals report difficulty getting out of bed for even just a few hours a day. In other less severe cases, people will give everything they have just to get through their day at work, while reporting nodding off frequently and being forced to retire directly to bed as soon as they get home.
Individuals who are suffering from this condition will sometimes force themselves to exercise in a feeble attempt to restore their energy. In some cases, this temporarily relieves symptoms; however, it is almost always followed extreme exhaustion.
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
As mentioned above, AF is the outcome of any one or a combination of chemical, physical and emotional stressors.
The body recognizes each one of these stressors as a threat and reacts to it in the same manner. For example, your physiology responds similar to the threat of a bear chasing you as it would if you were in a heated argument with your spouse. Your body reacts to these stressors by asking your adrenal glands to release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol’s primary role is to drive up your blood sugar for the use of “on-demand” energy. This energy is required by the body to cope with a stressful situation, which can be physical, chemical or emotional (such as in the example of running from a bear).
Cortisol production is one of many functions of the adrenal glands; and for short term demands, this is a natural and normal process. Examples of normal (short term) stressors on the adrenal glands are: driving that extra hour when we are already tired, or getting into that (brief) argument. However, today in an every increasingly fast paced lifestyle we have been putting excessive, chronic demands on the adrenal glands. In the age of excessive work schedules, the absence of home/work separation (due to technology) and increasingly poor lifestyles habits, we have developed the “perfect storm” for developing Adrenal Fatigue.
Long Term Effects of Adrenal Fatigue
I have worked with many patients who were suffering with at least some level of AF. This is a condition which I have seen take years to develop, and if not addressed will result in much more disabling symptoms.
Fatigue and exhaustion are the most common and obvious symptoms of AF; however, there are many other degenerating processes which are occurring.
When cortisol levels are elevated for long durations one negative outcome is reduced immune function. This increases the susceptibility of acquiring all forms of bacterial and viral infections. Any normal healthy individual who is suffering from Adrenal Fatigue or Adrenal Insufficiency will develop some form of Immunodeficiency.
Immunodeficiency is only one of many disease processes which occur with AF. Long term elevated blood sugar as a result of elevated cortisol also has significant health implications. The outcome of elevated blood sugar that is sustained for excessive duration’s may result in developing pre-diabetes and more severe diabetes.
Many other conditions have been linked to AF, some of which are:
Brain degeneration/Early Dementia
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
…and many more
What are the Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
You may be suffering from AF if you have any of these symptoms:
Daily sweet cravings or salty cravings
Tired/fatigued even with ample sleep
Consistently feeling “run down” or “overwhelmed”
Energy crashes in the afternoon and feeling more awake after 6pm
Consistently waking up in the middle of the night (most commonly between 2:00 and 4:00 am)
Adrenal Fatigue is More Common Today than Ever
Experiencing Adrenal Fatigue or Adrenal Insufficiency is not uncommon. In fact, Adrenal Fatigue is expected to affect up to 90% of the population at one time in life or another. I call it the “perfect storm,” of multiple physiological systems becoming drained or exhausted simultaneously.
As a result of our high stress (emotional, physical and chemical) “hyper charged” western lifestyles, we are now experiencing an epidemic of Adrenal Fatigue.
Can I Overcome Adrenal Fatigue?
YES, with proper testing, diagnosis and lifestyle changes I have seen many clients overcome all levels of severity with AF. In most cases this process has developed over many years and requires patience and a very disciplined commitment to getting better.
If you think you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue and are looking for more information, please contact us or click here to get help and learn more.