What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue goes by many names. Although it is not recognized by main stream medicine as a medical condition, it has reached epidemic proportions in today’s society.
Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys. Their function is to enable your body to deal with stress. Normally functioning adrenal glands secrete specific hormones in very precise and balanced amounts. They are extremely responsive to changes in your physical, physiological and emotional environment and therefore, many factors can interfere with their balance. Too much physical, emotional, environmental and/or physiological stress can cause your adrenal glands to pump out too much hormone that they are left depleted and unable to handle further stressors. The extreme of this is Addison’s disease which is life threatening if untreated. Fortunately, the extreme case only affects about 4 in 100,000 people. Adrenal fatigue however, is a milder version of Addison’s disease and is treatable. Once you take a look at the list of symptoms, you will realize that it affects a large proportion of the population. The modern lifestyle has a lot to do with this. Taking the time to reverse the damage now will lead to a much healthier and happier life.
What are the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue can be seen as a broad spectrum. From normally functioning adrenal glands all the way to just being shy of Addison’s disease. Depending on how far advanced your case happens to be, will alter the signs and symptoms you display. Here are a few things you may notice:
general fatigue – use of coffee to get going in the morning – craving for salty foods – lack of energy – increased effort to do daily tasks – light-headed when standing up quickly – mild depression – difficulty focusing – memory less accurate – weight gain – decreased sex drive – afternoon low between 2 and 4 pm – increased time to recover from illness – symptoms worsen after a period of increased stress such as a death in the family – and so many more…
These are signals from your body that you need to get your adrenal glands back on track!
Factors that contribute to Adrenal Fatigue
The body does not differentiate between the various forms of stress. Any form of stress, such as an argument with your sister or the inhalation of second hand smoke, will initiate an adrenal response. The accumulation of several stressors will eventually exhaust the adrenal glands. In short, adrenal fatigue occurs when the amount of stress exceeds the capacity of the adrenal glands. Here is a list of stressors that may bring your body closer to this point:
Financial pressures, caffeine, poor nutrient intake, lack of sleep, relationship stress, sugar intake, allergies, lack of exercise, smoking, negative attitudes, infection, fear, prescription drugs, death of a loved one, environmental toxins – to name just a few.
How do I know if I have Adrenal Fatigue?
In order to diagnose adrenal fatigue your Naturopathic Doctor may ask you a series of questions, perform a physical exam and conduct a urine test. Be careful of self-diagnosing. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue can be similar to other serious conditions that may need to be addressed immediately.
HOW CAN NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE HELP?
Depending on your situation, I will use an appropriate combination of several therapies to get you back on track. Lifestyle changes are the roots of addressing adrenal fatigue but therapies such as nutritional supplementation, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy and traditional Chinese Medicine help to speed up the process. Remember, it took you years to get to this point. Your body needs to adjust to recovering as well. The earlier you start, the sooner you will be feeling energetic again!
Dr. Lisa Vecchi, ND, RAc
Naturopathic Doctor and Registered Acupuncturist