It seems many people in the western world are tired & stressed out.
Are You Burnt Out?
I’m going to ask you a few questions and I want you to answer honestly:
- Do you struggle to get up in the mornings? Still feeling tired even though you have been sleeping all night?
- Do you often feel rundown and fatigued during the day? So tired you could sleep?
- Do you crave and use salty and sweet foods as well as caffeine to get you through the day?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions it is likely that you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue or “Burnout”.
Its a very common problem which often goes unnoticed. It affects significantly more women than men.
The number of people suffering has rocketed since the recession – money worries and job worries causing major stress.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue is a term used to describe when the adrenal glands are exhausted.
Adrenal fatigue is very commonly associated with stress levels.
The adrenal glands release CORTISOL in response to all stress, cortisol is your natural anti inflammatory and reduces stress and inflammation levels when needed.
Your adrenal glands are located just over the kidneys and are the size of walnuts.
They have a very important function within the body, they secrete over 50 different hormones which your body needs to survive.
As well as cortisol some of the other hormones that the adrenal glands secrete include testosterone, estrogen, epinephrine, and progesterone.
An expert in the field of adrenal fatigue Dr. Wilson notes that the glands work with other hormones and symptoms in what he calls a ‘symphony’. When one part of the symphony suffers and drops out (like menopause for women and andropause for men) the adrenal glands have to produce larger amounts of sex hormones, the key to longevity is to ensure that your adrenal glands are healthy.
Historically we would have had far less stress that we do in the modern day and it would of been dealt with by releasing bursts of cortisol, these days it more like a constant requirement for cortisol.
The world we live in makes this tough and adrenal glands often fail as a result of a build up of stress over a period of time rather than a one off event.
It has been referred to as a nervous breakdown or burnout but it is often actually the failing of your adrenal glands – adrenal fatigue.
There are no clearly visible effects of adrenal fatigue which is why it commonly goes unnoticed or attributed to ageing or other things.
People can live with this all their life and think it is just normal.
This fatigue cannot simply be relieved by a good night’s sleep. An estimated 80% of people at some point experience some form of adrenal fatigue and the physical symptoms associated with stress.
It is unlikely that a doctor will immediately diagnose you with adrenal fatigue, some people end up seeing many different doctors before having their problem identified as adrenal fatigue.
? Did you know ? One cup of coffee stimulates the adrenal glands for up to 18hrs! This over stimulation can add to the problem.
Symptoms and negatives effects of adrenal fatigue
Adrenal fatigue can really wreck the life you live, in extreme cases it can be so bad that you are only able to stay awake and move around for a couple of hours a day. Changes are made in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance is affected as well as your heart, cardiovascular system and sex drive as a result of adrenal fatigue.
The main symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:
- You feel unusually tired a lot of the time
- You feel rundown and have no energy
- You struggle to wake in the mornings despite what time you went to bed the night before
- You struggle for energy in the afternoon
- It is only really about 10am when you wake up properly despite being up for several hours
- ‘Wake up’ again after around 6pm
- Illness and stress hits you hard and you struggle to get rid of it
- You have cravings for sweets, salty snacks and caffeine
- Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
- Slight depression
- You feel weak a lot of the time, tired and weak at the top of stairs
- Low sex drive
- Increased allergies
- Dizziness and feeling light headed after standing up
If you find that you suffer from many of these symptoms there is a chance that it is down to adrenal fatigue.
Test yourself at home (you may need a hand with this)
In Dr. Wilson’s book, Adrenal Fatigue , he lists 3 tests you can do at home to help determine if you have Adrenal Fatigue. This might be helpful for those who can’t get a Cortisol test from their GP or it may help you get the test from the GP if you tell him you did this test.
Test #1: Iris Contraction Test
Equipment required: chair, small flashlight, mirror, a watch (with a second hand), and a dark room.
In a darkened room, sit in a chair in front of a mirror. Holding the flashlight at the side of your head, shine it across one eye (not into the eye). Watch what happens in the mirror.
You should see your pupil contract immediately after the light hits the eye. The pupil will normally stay contracted, but if you have adrenal fatigue, the pupil won’t be able to hold its contraction and will dilate. This dilation will take place within 2 minutes and last for about 30-45 seconds before it contracts again. Time how long the dilation lasts and record it along with the date. Retest monthly as it serves as an indicator of recovery.
Test #2: Blood Pressure Test
If your blood pressure drops when you stand up from a lying position, this almost always indicates low adrenals. This can be measured with a blood pressure gauge (a sphygmomanometer), which you can buy at a drug store. Make sure to purchase the type that doesn’t require a stethoscope to take your blood pressure.
Make sure to do this test when you are well hydrated or it could give you a false positive. Lie down quietly for about 10 minutes, then take your blood pressure (while still lying down). Then stand up and measure your blood pressure immediately upon standing. Normally blood pressure will rise 10-20mmHg from standing up. If your blood pressure drops, you likely have adrenal fatigue. The more severe the drop, the more severe the adrenal fatigue.
Test #3: Sergent’s White Line
This is only present in about 40% of people with Adrenal Fatigue, but if the test is positive, it’s a “slam dunk” confirmation.
With a ballpoint pen, take the cap end of the pen and lightly stroke the skin on your abdomen, making a mark about 6″ long. Within a few seconds, a line should appear. In a normal reaction, the mark is initially white, but reddens within a few seconds. If you have Adrenal Fatigue, the line will stay white for about 2 minutes and will also widen.
The daily mail said – “The problem is that this condition is difficult to diagnose. Adrenal function is measured on a sliding scale, a bit like thyroid function. It’s only if a test shows you to have levels in the highest or lowest 2 per cent that you’ll be deemed ‘abnormal’ “.
So if your cortisol levels are in the lowest 5 per cent and you are suffering significant symptoms, it still wouldn’t be deemed a medical issue.
Im not a doctor so please check the results of these tests and discuss everything with your own GP and he may give you a saliva test to establish your levels (to see if you are in the top or bottom 2%).
What causes adrenal fatigue?
Many experts say adrenal fatigue is a side effect of modern living.
The main cause of adrenal fatigue is due to the large amounts of stress people place on their body every single day. Other reasons for adrenal fatigue can be down to an emotional crisis such as a break up or loss of a loved one, chronic infections such as influenza and pneumonia, and major surgery is another thing which can cause it.
The science behind the production of adrenal fatigue is the glands respond to every different kind of stress you receive using hormones which regulate many important functions in the body (immune function, heart rate, muscle tone, energy production) which allow us to cope with the stress.
When this happens for prolonged periods of time the adrenal glands wear out and cannot supply the body with what it needs.
No matter what causes the stress, your adrenals need to respond to this in order to keep you balanced and destressed. If your adrenal glands aren’t able to respond to the stress effectively then we have adrenal fatigue. The glands do still continue to function but not to their full capacity.
Adrenal fatigue used to be rare but due to the fast paced world we now live in, it is becoming very common. Relaxation can be very hard to come by and when you take into account things such as smoking, caffeine, lack of money, sleep deprivation, job and family pressures, processed food, lack of exercise it is no surprise that our bodies can’t cope!
People wake up feeling tired and have a cup of coffee or three or a fizzy drink to give them ‘energy’, this may work temporarily and get you through the morning but you will crash eventually.
What are the solutions?
If you suffer from adrenal fatigue there is good news, it is possible to feel your best again.
The biggest cause of adrenal fatigue are lifestyle factors which can easily be changed with commitment, motivation and openness to change. I know if I suffered from several of the symptoms I mentioned above I would be willing to try anything to get rid of them!
You must allow a good degree of time though to get back to your best, like 1-2 years, it will take time so don’t give up.
To help you out I have come up with a list of my top 10 methods to help you beat adrenal fatigue:
- Remove as much stress from your life as possible and learn how to say NO to negative things.
- Participate in regular exercise, lightly to start, walking outdoors is great. NO INTENSE TRAINING AS IT WILL MAKE YOU WORSE.
- Make sure you go to bed at the same time every night, try not to go later than 10pm and get at least 8-10 hours sleep a night
- Eat regular well balanced meals every day, avoid skipping meals and eating crap because you are rushing
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, vary them to make things more interesting
- Enjoy your life, do something fun every week where you can smile and laugh
- Allow time for relaxation, have a massage, go to a yoga class or just have a bit of quiet time each evening
- Avoid processed foods
- Eat mineral sea salt with your meals
- Ensure you are getting enough vitamin C, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids and magnesium each day
I guarantee if you start to make these changes you will start to feel better in no time. Try to make one or two changes a week rather than attempting to do 10 all at once!
We only get one shot at this life and no one wants to spend half of it walking around like a zombie. So let’s live well and fight adrenal fatigue!
Thanks for reading and as always I would love to hear your questions or comments below.
PS – Check out this video, its a funny look at a very serious problem, some of it relates to our American cousins but it will give you a good insight.