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How To Diagnose Adrenal Fatigue

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Higher Energy Levels In The Evenings

How is Adrenal Fatigue Diagnosed and Treated?

The lower levels of cortisol can play havoc with our energy levels throughout the day. In a healthy person, cortisol reaches its highest level early in the morning before declining gradually throughout the day. However, some Adrenal Fatigue sufferers experience spikes in cortisol in the late afternoon and evening, often leading to insomnia.

A typical progression is to find yourself tired all day, then suddenly get a bounce in your energy levels late in the evening. This tends to occur in the earlier stages of Adrenal Fatigue when the adrenals are still capable of producing significant amounts of cortisol and adrenaline.

Natural Ways To Treat Adrenal Fatigue And Heal Your Adrenals

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With three boys to take care of ), a big house and garden to maintain, a company to run plus trying to stay in shape and be a good homemaker its no wonder perimenopause struck me hard.

I thought I was the tough woman who could handle it all!

Well, I could, but it had a price. All the built-up stress didnt help me, and I felt discomforts crashing down on me. Today, my schedule is still full, but I have tools to organize everything, so Im not bothered anymore.

The adrenal glands, our main stress regulator, is important as we enter menopause. These backup organs produce estrogen and progesterone when our ovaries start to falter. Like any part of the body, our adrenals reach a point of exhaustion too, and we experience adrenal fatigue symptoms.

If the adrenals are not your ally during menopause, you will experience more symptoms. Your adrenals are the first you have to take care of!

Risks And Side Effects

First, remember that any new dietary regimen or addition of supplements in your lifestyle should be implemented under the supervision of a physician/naturopath you trust.

In general, introducing more plant-based foods into your lifestyle and eliminating stimulants, sugary foods and processed items with a ton of sodium or chemicals added to them is going to help you feel and live better, regardless of conditions you may or may not have.

The larger concern comes when referring to herbs, spices, supplements and essential oils used to combat adrenal fatigue. Dont blindly use any new supplements, herb or essential oil without medical supervision or proper education on how, how much, how often and how long to use these supplements.

There are several herbs that should not be used when pregnant or breastfeeding. This includes medicinal mushrooms, adaptogenic herbs and some essential oils.

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Primary Adrenal Insufficiency Vs Adrenal Fatigue

Primary adrenal insufficiency, also referred to as Addison’s disease or hypocortisolism, is a rare autoimmune condition characterized by low levels of adrenal hormones . This occurs when the adrenal glands fail to produce adequate hormones despite normal or increased production of ACTH by the pituitary gland.

Sometimes associated with autoimmune thyroid disease, Addison’s disease is characterized by symptoms of fatigue, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, skin discoloration, and more, with the potential of life-threatening episodes occurring in response to major stress.

Primary adrenal insufficiency is confirmed with a combination of diagnostic tests and imaging tests of the adrenal glands.

In contrast, when the term adrenal fatigue is used, it refers to a condition with some of the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency but with normal laboratory tests.

How Can Naturopathic Treatments Help

Adrenal Fatigue &  Adrenal Confusion

Naturopathic Doctors provide treatments that support the natural circadian rhythm of cortisol and help to manage any underlying stressors that are affecting the adrenal glands. In each patient these underlying causes may be different. For example, if a patient regularly experiences hypoglycemia, this will trigger the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands and over a prolonged period of time contributes to adrenal fatigue. Naturopathic treatments for this patient would then include nutrition and lifestyle management to balance blood sugar levels.

In another patient, insomnia may be a root cause of their adrenal fatigue and the naturopathic doctor would then offer natural treatments that support deep, restorative sleep.

Adaptogens are often included in the program. Since adrenal adaptogens have a wide variety of different properties these are individually chosen to match the patients needs. For example, some adaptogens improve energy levels, whereas others are more calming in periods of intense stress. Some adaptogens lower high levels of cortisol, and others are supportive for patients with low levels of cortisol. Combinations of adaptogens can also be included and timed precisely in the day to match a patients symptom picture and pattern of cortisol more exactly.

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How Do Doctors Test For Adrenal Fatigue

Practitioners who test for adrenal fatigue believe that lower-than-normal cortisol levels are a hallmark of the disease.

However, cortisol, and other hormone levels, fluctuate based on time of day and month. Hormones also interact with each other, so thyroid hormones are often tested as well. Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that regulates growth, metabolism, and a range of bodily functions.

The tests listed below are usually ordered when a persons symptoms suggest an adrenal, pituitary, or thyroid problem or other medical condition that indicates a hormone inbalance. You may want to get a second opinion for any abnormal test results if your practitioner uses this information to support a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue.

What Are Adrenal Glands

Your adrenal glands are two small organs that sit on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands make different types of hormones you need to stay alive and healthy. Hormones are chemicals that travel in your bloodstream and control how different parts of your body work.

The adrenal glands make the hormones cortisol, aldosterone, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. They also make hormones that your body uses to make sex hormones . All of these hormones do many important jobs, including:

  • Turning food into energy and managing blood sugar levels
  • Balancing salt and water
  • Responding to illness and stress
  • Timing when and how fast a child develops sexually
  • Supporting pregnancy

Also Check: Is Fatigue A Symptom Of Pregnancy

What Is Adrenal Insufficiency

Unlike adrenal fatigue, this is a recognized disease that can be diagnosed. There are two forms of this condition, and both are caused by damage or problems with your adrenal glands that result in them not making enough of the hormone cortisol.

Symptoms of both forms include chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, weight loss, and stomach pain. You might also have nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, diarrhea, depression, or darkening of the skin.

Adrenal insufficiency is diagnosed with a blood test that checks to see if your cortisol levels are too low. If you have it, youâll need to take a hormone replacement.

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Ways To Diagnose Adrenal Fatigue

Treating Adrenal Fatigue: How to Recover from Adrenal Fatigue Quickly

Keep in mind, you can get a blood test that shows cortisol levels if your holistic doctor does a very extensive bloodwork. This is not the most accurate reading because it only measures it at one time during the day and it also measures bound and unbound cortisol. The saliva test taken throughout the day, described at the bottom of this post, is the gold standard for diagnosis.

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What Is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is a collection of non-specific yet often debilitating adrenal dysfunction symptoms. It is not a myth but rather an increasingly common and often debilitating condition.

Fatigue and lethargy are the most common complaints amongst adults. If you have symptoms such as tiredness, fearfulness, allergies, frequent getting sick, aches and pains of unknown origin, anxiousness, depressed mood, reduced memory and difficulties in concentrating, difficulty sleeping, inability to lose weight, you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. The onset of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is often slow and insidious.

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome should not be confused with another medical condition called Addisons disease, where the adrenal glands are not functioning. While Addisons disease is often caused by autoimmune dysfunction, Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is primarily driven by stress.

What Is The Treatment For Adrenal Fatigue

The treatment for adrenal fatigue is essentially lifestyle advice, including sleep, diet and exercise. Talk with your doctor to discuss how you are feeling so that your doctor can arrange tests if needed and also provide you with advice and support.

It is very important to reduce stress and improve relaxation. See also the separate leaflets called Acute Stress Reaction and Stress Management and also the leaflet called Relaxation exercises.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Avoid junk foods and processed foods. Also avoid or reduce coffee and any other stimulant drinks and reduce your intake of sugary drinks and foods. See also the separate leaflet called Healthy Eating.

Regular exercise is also important. See the separate leaflet called Exercise and Physical Activity.

It is very important to have enough sleep and to stick to a consistent sleep routine. For more information see the separate leaflet called Insomnia and the leaflet called Sleep diary.

There is no evidence that supplements are of any value, and some supplements may be harmful.

Recommended Reading: What Is Chronic Fatigue A Sign Of

Distinction From Addisons Disease

Adrenal fatigue is closely related to, but not to be confused with, Addisons Disease, a disorder characterized by insufficient cortisol production due either to a pathology directly affecting the adrenals or a disruption of signaling between the brain and the adrenals. While symptoms of Addisons Disease are similar to adrenal fatigue, the primary difference is that adrenal fatigue is considered a possible result of the overuse of otherwise healthy adrenal glands due to stress.

The adrenals are necessary to have gluconeogenesis to take place in the liver, as well as the glycogen storage where it stimulates the production of blood glucose, says Dr. Wilson. So, most of the major symptoms of either adrenal fatigue or Addisons Disease are a result of either a lack of cortisol or a lack of blood glucose and the many effects that it has systematically throughout the body.

He theorizes, Unlike Addisons, adrenal fatigue doesnt have a pathological origin, with the exception of the overuse of antibiotics which may partially shut down the use of the adrenal glands. So, you do get different symptoms with versus adrenal fatigue, because youre talking about the difference between a body that cant secrete cortisol versus a body that isnt secreting sufficient cortisol.

Feeling Stressed Watch Out For Adrenal Fatigue

Herbs and Supplements to Improve Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue is a condition brought about when the adrenal glands in the body are not functioning correctly.

Our adrenal glands produce cortisol, a hormone required for effective functioning of the immune system, brain, muscle tissue, and blood sugar regulation in the human body. When we experience extreme or prolonged periods of stress such as the stress that stems from hectic work and home schedules punctuated by shots of sugar and caffeine our adrenal glands become overwhelmed, and no longer efficiently produce cortisol.

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The Different Causes Of Adrenal Fatigue

Although AFS is caused by chronic stress, you cant simply use relaxation techniques to recover from this often debilitating condition. And suppose your doctor sends you home with some antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications and tells you to manage your stress. In that case, you run the risk of eventually reaching adrenal exhaustion and maybe even becoming bedridden, with no help in sight.

Thats why understanding exactly how chronic stress affects your adrenal glands, and your body in general, is the key to understanding AFS. It will also help you approach the recovery process more holistically and intelligently. When I talk about chronic stress as the cause of AFS, I mean any stressor that your body is exposed to on a consistent basis. This includes stressors such as:

  • An unhealthy diet
  • Overconsumption of sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods
  • Food sensitivities, such as to gluten or dairy
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Anger, fear, guilt, shame, depression, and any other extreme emotional states
  • Chronic psychological stress
  • Consumption of alcohol and/or recreational drugs
  • Certain medications

If Adrenal Fatigue Isnt Real Whats Causing My Fatigue

Even though adrenal fatigue test results arent reliable, your fatigue is a very real, frustrating experience you want to resolve. There are several likely reasons for ongoing fatigue, many of which are easily addressed.

Gut Health Imbalances

One of the most common reasons for fatigue is an overlooked and unaddressed problem in the gut. For example, research shows that fatigue is a very common symptom for people with IBS [6

Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source].

Ongoing Stress Levels

Even though stress and elevated cortisol doesnt cause adrenal fatigue, high levels of perceived stress stress from the realities of your daily life like your job, marriage, finances, etc. can lead to fatigue. This is likely because stress does impact your memory and learning, digestion, cardiovascular health, sleep, immune function, and hormones . The most famous example is getting a stomach ache when youre nervous about something, like a job interview or a performance.

Sleep Problems

Of course, sleep problems, including insomnia, sleep apnea , and too little sleep can also affect your energy levels.

Chronic Pain

Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source]. For best results, use three high-quality probiotic products together. For more information about how to use probiotics, see my Probiotics Starter Guide.

And gut healing diets like the low FODMAP diet have been shown to reduce fatigue because they reduce the food source for the bad bacteria that may be triggering your symptoms.

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It Is Possible To Recover From Adrenal Fatigue

Yes, it is! Finding a functional medicine practitioner is the first step. As already stated, it can take one to two years to recover from adrenal fatigue. It may even take longer for some people. You must be gentle with yourself. You must be kind to yourself. Dont be too hard on yourself. Dont be excessively demanding on yourself. Give yourself a break. If you give your body and your mind the opportunity to rest and recover, you will heal.

Signs And Symptoms You Have Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms and Natural Solutions for “Fatigued” Adrenals

Adrenal fatigue is estimated to affect over 80% of people in the world! The main culprits are chronic stress and lifestylethey affect the bodys ability to recuperate from physical, mental, and emotional stress.

Most people have suffered from adrenal fatigue in their lifetime, whether for a short period or chronic condition. Symptoms include: body aches, trouble concentrating, racing thoughts, moodiness and irritability, always tired, feeling overwhelmed, hormone imbalance, and cravings for sweet or salty foods. Adrenal fatigue can also be a major cause of excess fat storage and low energy levels. These symptoms can easily be overlooked, but more people are becoming aware that they could be indicators of adrenal fatigue and not depression or chronic fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is a condition, which occurs when your body cant keep up with the amount of daily stress that many people experience. Wellness professionals believe than an episode of acute stress or prolonged, chronic stress can cause the adrenal glands to become overloaded and ineffective. Some causes of adrenal fatigue are: stressful emotional experiences such as divorce, death of a loved one, or surgery, exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants, prolonged stress due to financial hardships, unhealthy relationships, or bad work environments, negative thinking, emotional trauma, lack of sleep, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

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More Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue

There are a large number of other complaints that are associated with Adrenal Fatigue. Many of these are linked directly to one of the more common complaints listed above. Depending on which stage of Adrenal Fatigue you have reached, you may be experiencing a handful or a large number of these symptoms.

  • Anxiety
  • Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
  • Weight gain

What Are The Complications Of Adrenal Insufficiency

You may have sudden severe symptoms. This is called acute adrenal insufficiency, or Addisonian crisis. This can occur when your body is stressed. That can happen for many reasons, such as an illness, fever, surgery, or dehydration. You may also have a crisis if you stop taking your steroids or lower the amount of your steroids suddenly. The symptoms of an Addisonian crisis include the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency or Addisons disease. But if an Addisonian crisis is not treated, it can lead to:

  • Shock

  • Coma

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Third Stage: The Resisting Phase

At this point of Adrenal Fatigue development, the process of producing stress hormones instead of sex hormones becomes even more conspicuous. In other words, testosterone and DHEA drop substantially, while cortisol levels will be far more elevated than usual. One can say that your body steals from sex hormones, such as pregnenelone, and uses all of the borrowed power to generate cortisol.

Even though a person can still have a normal life at this stage of Adrenal Fatigue development, the quality of life drops enormously. No doubt, it is possible to go on with a job and daily routine. Yet, the lack of certain important hormones results in slight depression, exhaustion, decreased interest in sex, vulnerable immune system, and general lack of any drive or enthusiasm. This stage can continue from several months to several years, and many people still fail to regard it as a symptom of Adrenal Fatigue.

Causes Signs Symptoms Treatments And Controversy

Adrenal fatigue and stress Archives

With James L. Wilson, PhD

Excess stress causes the adrenal glands to increase cortisol production.

If you’re feeling tired and fried, chances are you’ve probably heard of adrenal fatigue and wondered if it may be the source of your constant exhaustion. But what exactly is it, and how do you know if it’s what’s causing your lack of oomph? Let’s investigate.

Adrenal fatigue is an increasingly common yet sometimes controversial diagnosis used to indicate depletion of the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenals for use in the regulation of blood pressure. In response to stress, the adrenals release greater amounts of cortisol. Adrenal fatigue is thought to occur when the adrenals have become overtaxed by excess cortisol release and can no longer produce levels of cortisol necessary for optimal body function.

James L. Wilson, PhD, who coined the term adrenal fatigue in his book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndrome, describes the adrenals as two little glands that sit over your kidneys and are about the size of two large grapes and weigh about five-to-eight grams.

According to Wilson, The adrenals put out over fifty hormones. We often only hear about DHA and cortisol, but forty percent of womens estrogen or progesterone are made in the adrenal glands and about forty percent of testosterone in males is made in the adrenal glands.

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