Tuesday 3rd December – What is Adrenal Fatigue ???
Well where do I start….. Adrenal fatigue is generally not recognised by the medical community, it is thought that the adrenal glands (which are little walnut sized glands located on the top of each of your kidneys) have been exhausted and cannot control the correct amount of hormones in the body. These hormones include pinephrine, cortisol, progesterone, DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to and to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue.
So essentially it is a collection of symptoms being extreme fatigue, the inability to sleep, sugar and salt cravings, sore joints, a “foggy head”, poor immunity and taking a long time to get over minor illnesses, never actually feeling re-charged or refreshed after rest, inability to lose weight and a reliance on stimulants such as coffee to get through a day. Now when I say extreme fatigue I don’t mean feeling a bit tired, I mean that you are incapable of minor thought function like simply getting out of bed and having a shower. You are so so tired you don’t know your own name, you get lost driving to somewhere you go everyday like work, you simply cannot comprehend anything at all, but your body is still wired like you’ve had too much coffee and you cannot sleep. All this can lead to severe depression in some subjects which can certainly delay recovery. Many medical professionals do not understand adrenal fatigue (or simply do not believe in it) as most tests done, for example, blood tests, will only pick up the top and bottom 2.5% extremes of cases. So anyone in the middle that is suffering tend to get overlooked. Imagine if your “normal” hormonal levels were close to the bottom 3% and your hormone levels are now closer to the top 3%, that’s a massive change in your body but it will not come up in standard tests….. Most patients suffering from AF get treated for depression and take far longer to actually recover.
However, AF can be diagnosed using a saliva swab test which will analyse hormone output, particularly cortisol and DHEA. Fluctuations of these hormones can point to poor adrenal function and any changes to normal adrenal activity. But of course it will depend on your medical provider whether they think to do this or treat your symptoms as something else.
I was incredibly lucky that my medical provider saw the symptoms straight away and put me on the right path to recovery. Very lucky.
My symptoms were very obvious and text book. My energy an all time low. I was able to go great guns for about a 5 days then start to struggle then the following week be wiped out or sick. Waking feeling like I had run a marathon and simply crumpling to the floor with exhaustion getting out of bed with my poor mind exploding with overloads of information exhausting me even more as it was like watching 10 tv shows at once with the radio on and reading a book, so I would simply lay on the tiles and try and filter how to a) get up and get to work b) what the hell to do next c) how the hell to do it. If I made it to the shower to get ready for work I would end up leaning against the wall confused as to the process of the shower because I was so exhausted, staring at soap like it was new to the world….. then start crying because I knew something was very wrong but I didn’t have any physical scars, wounds, outward appearance of a problem and how do I relay that I just can’t make it out the door to people that look at me with make up, hair done, clothes pressed and simply looking a little tired from, hey maybe a big night out? It’s very hard to get across to people that something is wrong but I can’t show you, you have to just believe me.
And food ??? The bodies reaction to utter exhaustion is that it needs fuelling immediately and it wants the most basic forms of fuel being sugars and simple carbs so I did have them, a lot of them as I had to make it through the day plus a few coffees of course to keep going. Essentially making things worse but I know that now after my saviour Doc pointed me in the right direction. I truly am so very lucky that I can move on with recovery now and be a whole lot nicer to myself because I wasn’t failing, I was simply having a poor start J
Adrenal fatigue can be both chronic (builds up over time) from situations like regular stresses at work, the environment or poor diet or it can be acute from a singular severe stressful situation like an illness, death, or surgery. It can develop from basically anything that stresses the body either physically or emotionally in some way. Some people are born to handle stresses more efficiently than others and they handle a situation or multiple constant stressful situations for a long time then all of a sudden they are “wiped out” and cannot bounce back and others simply cannot handle stressful situation at all and one “push” sends them into a spiral.
No one is immune to adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome – Dr James Wilson