Adrenal fatigue. Burn out. Exhaustion. Stress. They are all one in the same, but how do you know if you have it?
A common question I am asked is “how are my adrenals?” Adrenal health and fatigue has now become mainstream, but not many people know how it affects them, how to test for it, or how to address it.
Your adrenal glands are glands that sit on top of your kidneys and are responsible for secreting stress hormones. Your body has mechanisms in place to get yourself out of stress and into safety if you see a bear or perceived threat. However, your body cannot tell the difference between seeing a bear and modern day stresses of work, finances, kids, etc. The difference is that when you see a bear, the stress is short lived and you either get to safety or get eaten, versus modern day stressors do not go away and can slowly deteriorate your energy levels, immune system and health leading to adrenal fatigue.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:
- Autoimmune conditions
- Chronic fatigue (always feeling tired)
- Brain fog
- Hair loss
- Hormone imbalances
- Abnormal periods
- Weakened stress response
- Insulin resistance
- Decreased sex drive/libido
- Moodiness and irritability
- Muscle or bone loss
- Skin ailments
- Sleep disturbances
- Weight gain
- Sweet and salty food cravings
To test for adrenal health I commonly order salivary hormone testing or comprehensive urine testing. By these methods you are able to see at what level your body is secreting your stress hormone cortisol and if it is under or overactive. Alternatively I also start treatment for adrenals if the picture is clear. I always tell people that I will only order a test if it will change treatment (how lab tests should be ordered) and if I feel strongly enough that the persons symptoms fit a treatment plan, we can just begin treatment and assess after a few weeks.
In an ideal world we would all be living on the beach, eating organic fruits and veggies, and relaxing, but instead we are here living in modern times and doing our best to keep our heads above water. If we cannot move to the beach, instead we should support our body with adrenal support. Treatments for adrenal fatigue include a combination of choices from oral supplementation with adpatogen herbs and nutrients, B vitamin injections, IV vitamin therapy, dietary changes, lifestyle interventions and a variety of other options depending on the persons concerns, levels, goals and comfort level.