It’s important to know adrenal fatigue is not a proven medical condition. The term describes the appearance of chronic fatigue and other symptoms caused by an over-taxed adrenal gland, usually a sign of extreme stress or emotional distress.
The adrenal glands are important because they make the hormones that keep our bodies in balance. The theory, (again, there is no scientific evidence), is that when we are experiencing high levels of stress, our body perceives itself to be under attack, and the adrenal glands may not be generating enough hormones to counteract the attack.
Adrenal fatigue is the result of our adrenal glands not working as efficiently as they could. There is a rare medical condition called Addison’s disease, which is where the adrenal glands cease to function completely.
Only 4 out of every 100,000 people have Addison’s disease, and it is diagnosed through blood tests. There is no blood test to diagnose adrenal fatigue, however, and no other way of proving the existence of low hormone production. As such, adrenal fatigue is still a theory.
That doesn’t mean that adrenal fatigue doesn’t exist, though, and it’s often suggested that someone has adrenal fatigue simply because of the symptoms they are manifesting. According to The Mayo Clinic, “Adrenal fatigue is a term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems.”
Here are 10 signs of adrenal fatigue:
Do you notice any of these things?
1. Always feeling tired and never able to get enough sleep.
It is not normal to wake up feeling tired, or still feel tired after taking a nap.
2. Trouble focusing, making decisions or thinking clearly.
Something is usually going in our bodies when we walk around in a foggy state and are unable to think clearly.
3. Moodiness and overly emotional behaviors.
You should seek help if your mood swings become uncharacteristic or out of place.
4. Adrenal fatigue causes salt and sugar cravings.
Our bodies signal that it lacks something through cravings. Both salt and sweet cravings are an indication that our hormone levels may be low.
5. Muscular aches and pains.
When our bodies are under stress, we tend to hold it in our muscles, which end up resulting in achiness and tightness that continues until it is relieved.
6. Dizziness and lightheadedness from sudden movement.
When our bodies are out of balance, it takes longer to respond to changes.
7. Hormonal imbalance can stem from adrenal fatigue.
A hormonal imbalance can be manifested through excessive weight gain, insomnia or restless sleep, an increase in sweating and digestive problems.
8. A low libido.
When we are under chronic stress and experiencing low hormone production, our sex drive can be one of the first things to go.
9. An increase in menopausal or PMS symptoms.
These symptoms rely entirely on hormones, so it makes sense that a decrease in hormone production would manifest itself through more severe symptoms.
10. A decrease in the immune system.
Keep an eye out for more frequent colds, flu, and allergy-related symptoms.
Proponents of diagnosing adrenal fatigue often associate it with chronic stress. And as is evident from the lists of symptoms, you can attribute much of it to stress. When we experience normal levels of stress that tax our hormonal output, the adrenal glands can recover quickly. It’s when the stress continues over a long period and at above normal levels, that the adrenal glands begin to produce a lower level of hormones.
The general nature of the symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue makes treating it through supplements potentially dangerous because it can mask what is going on inside the body. Again from the Mayo Clinic, “Unproven remedies for so-called adrenal fatigue may leave you feeling sicker, while the real cause — such as depression or fibromyalgia — continues to take its toll.”
Treating adrenal fatigue can be as simple as addressing the sources of stress and taking a natural approach to relieving it. Before seeking supplements, try incorporating natural stress reducing activities to help get your adrenal glands back on track.
Some natural approaches to treating adrenal fatigue and relieving excess stress are:
- Taking regular walks outside
- Exercise, specifically yoga
- Building more downtime into the schedule
- Eating whole foods and eliminating processed sugars
- Staying hydrated
As is evident, the natural approach to treating adrenal fatigue is also a solid approach to living a healthier life that will promote longevity. Many in the medical community resist offering the diagnosis of adrenal fatigue since it is hard to prove. If you have several of the above symptoms, begin to implement some of the natural remedies. If the problems persist, insist on getting a real diagnosis.
The bottom line: Paying consistent attention to our overall well-being by improving our diet, sleep, physical activity levels, and stress management can lead to a holistic approach to handling many environmental induced conditions.