what is adrenal fatigue?
If you’ve read an article about stress and how it’s killing your body in the last week raise your hand! (raises hand). OK so, I know there’s a ton of stuff floating around out there about stress and how it’s killing us. It’s true! Cell phones, financial strain, toxic foods, and the “American Dream” keeps most American Women in a constant haze of stress. This stress has a lot of effects on the body. Trust me, I feel you. But what can we do about it? AND What SPECIFICALLY is happening to us? One thing that tons of us are going through (but most of us are unaware of) is Adrenal Fatigue.
If the bags under your eyes have made themselves a permanent fixture on your face, your brain has decided insomnia is its new favourite hobby. And stress makes you go straight into #QuitMode, you could be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. Don’t freak out, though! It’s manageable.
What Exactly is Adrenal Fatigue, Anyway?
Your adrenals are these nifty little glands right above your kidneys that control your hormone production. Because of my well-documented hormone issues, this makes them a favourite topic of mine (don’t judge me! Health gets me excited, OK?!).
Adrenal fatigue happens when your body is way too stressed, and it starts making messes with your hormone production. It starts making too much or too little Cortisol (stress hormone) or Estrogen (sexhormone) or testosterone (another sexhormone)…and the list goes on.
This leaves you, my fellow woman, tired. Not only does it leave you tired, but it also houses a whole host of other symptoms (listed below) that can make life feel….well….just sucktastic.
The Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue – Checklist
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are SUPER varied. Our bodies are so individual but there are a few common symptoms that give away a hormone issue in general.
- Sleep Issues: Alright. If you’ve been finding yourself lying awake staring at the ceiling bored out of your wits (or thinking of new blog titles if you’re like me) at all hours of the night, pay attention. Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. If you can’t sleep at night, can’t wake up in the morning.
- Sick Way Too Much: Issues with the immune system are also a red flag that your adrenals are out of whack. If you’ve had a cold for way too long or keep getting infections, again and again, check this one too.
- Mommy Dearest Level Irritability: Hide the sharp objects. Increased irritability is a huge red flag for some adrenal issues.
- Focus Issue- SQUIRREL!: Trouble concentrating and poor memory can be a sign of late-stage adrenal fatigue.
- Blood Pressure Problems: If you’ve had random unexplained changes in blood pressure, you definitely need to see a doctor. Combine this with a few other symptoms, and you should mention adrenal fatigue.
- Unexplained Soreness: If your body hurts all over, don’t just assume you’re getting old. Adrenal fatigue can easily cause body aches and pains.
The Stages of Adrenal Fatigue
If you use the internet, you will find tons of resources on adrenal fatigue. One thing you may not find much is that there are actually different stages to adrenal fatigue. I know. Crazy!
Most websites, blogs, and social media people riding the coattails of the adrenal fatigue buzz leave out the fact that it is, in fact, a real medical condition, with real medical phases. You can also check out a more thorough guide to the stages of adrenal fatigue over here.
- Stage 1: Chicken-Fried Brain Steak– I know, gross analogy. Hear me out. This stage of adrenal fatigue is the beginning when your body handles stress poorly. (Medically, this is called “Decreased Response to Stress”) Insomnia, Anxiety, and just overall feeling more stressed.
- Stage 2: Cloudy with a Chance of I Forgot – In stage two, your body has an increased response to stress. Full of cortisol, you will probably feel sleepy, foggy, and unable to focus. If you’ve ever stayed up all night with an infant, this stage is very much like the morning after. Stage two also usually begins weight gain.
- Stage 3: Am I Still Breathing? –Stage three is (in my opinion) the toughest stage. You’re so exhausted you can barely function, and no matter how much you sleep, you still need more. Most people will start encountering gut and digestive issues here. So on top of being tired, crabby, and ready to quit… you can’t get off the toilet.
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
As with most modern-day illnesses, adrenalfatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle issues. More specifically, increased stress and poor diet are huge factors in adrenal fatigue. The less you take care of your body and your mind, the more at-risk you are for annoying things like adrenalfatigue. As someone who frequently has to make checklists to remember to take care of myself, I KNOW, it’s easier said than done.
GREAT. What Can I do About it?
Treating adrenalfatigue is tricky, but not impossible! Yay for lifestyle disorders! While there are tons of paid eBooks and “health coaches” trying to sell you “cures to adrenalfatigue”, trust me when I say, you’re better off trying a few simple self-care tips and seeing a doctor. (I REPEAT, IF CONCERNED, PLEASE SEE A DOCTOR).