With our complex lives in the 21st century, more and more people are suffering from stress-related conditions, many of which are classified as autoimmune disorders!
The negative impact of stress can affect many areas of health. One area in particular that can be adversely affected is the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are located near the kidneys and produce the hormones that are needed for the body to function properly. Stress adversely affects these glands because, when the body is under severe stress the glands start producing more hormones to help the body cope (this is the classic ‘fight or flight response). The main hormone is cortisol, which regulates metabolism and is a response to stress.
Of course, in some circumstances a stress response is needed, however, when stress is experienced over a long period of time, these glands weaken and this negatively affects the body and results in adrenal fatigue.
As fibromyalgia Warriors, we know that the fatigue that comes along with fibromyalgia is real…. Very Real… And sometimes our body is not functioning optimally, and this could be a result of adrenal fatigue… So let's dive in!
Did you know that some people believe that adrenal fatigue may actually be the same as fibromyalgia?
Did you know that Adrenal fatigue is currently not accepted by conventional medicine although is highly regarded in alternative medicine practices?
Did you know that Adrenal Fatigue is not the same thing as ADDISON'S Disease which is a condition in which the adrenal glands completely shut down cortisol production.
Did you know that Adrenal Fatigue has been described in medical literature since the turn of the 20th century; however, most doctors do not know what it is or do not believe in the diagnosis because it is impossible to diagnose with traditional blood tests or imaging. Normal blood tests are designed to detect pathological processes … like severe and absolute deficiency of adrenal hormone (Addison’s Disease).
Addison's Disease affects only 1 in 25,000 people. In cases of Adrenal Fatigue, the adrenal hormones are low, however, they are within the normal range and not low enough to warrant the diagnosis of any specific disease.
If you're anything like me you're thinking WOW! When I first learned about adrenal fatigue and was trying to fix my fibromyalgia I couldn’t believe the similarities in the two conditions…
I still remember the pain and confusion I felt when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I felt that so much of the medical community did not even believe that fibromyalgia existed… I was led to believe that nothing could be done to help me….
…. But that was not true!
When I discovered functional medicine, I was introduced to treatments that were available and that were not discussed or even mentioned by my family doctor… I was happy and excited to learn of possibilities that would help me and yet I was so sad and disappointed that I had suffered so long and had never been offered these treatments...
Now thinking again about adrenal fatigue…
…. I believe that it does exist and that there are treatments out there that do help and especially help my clients with fibromyalgia…
Remember that identifying the root cause of fibromyalgia is the only way that you can put your fibromyalgia symptoms into remission…
Maybe your root cause is adrenal fatigue...
So today I am going to share with you 5 symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which affect many fibromyalgia sufferers.
So, what are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
1. Excessive, unexplained tiredness. Adrenal fatigue makes a person very tired. This is because under stress the hormone levels are elevated, thus making it harder to sleep. Over time, the body’s cortisol levels are affected and this leads to the body being in an almost permanent state of alertness. All of this can affect the ability of a person to fall asleep or get a good night’s sleep. It could be that a person thinks he is getting enough sleep (the recommended 8 to 10 hours) but still wakes up feeling tired and fatigued.
Fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome can be easily dismissed by doctors especially if your lab levels are “normal”. I have found that many clients with normal labs still have problems… because although their labs are “normal” they are not optimal. For my clients that have severe fatigue, I like to explore their hormones through testing that is not offered by most conventional medical practitioners. This testing uses saliva, can be done from home and gives clarity into what is actually happening in your body!
2. Cravings for salty or sugary foods. One way that adrenal fatigue affects the body is to lower the blood sugar level. When this happens cravings for energy foods increase and therefore a sufferer will eat more sugary foods. Foods high in sugar are also comfort foods and stress can cause a person to increase the intake of sugar-high foods. Adrenal fatigue can also result in cravings for salty foods. This is because the adrenal glands affect how the kidneys regulate mineral fluctuations. When we suffer from fatigue, the body releases more minerals in the urine. This in turn can increase the desire for salty snacks.
Do you have food cravings? Click the link below and send me an email and let me know your cravings and I can give you a nutritional evaluation to do a quick and easy check to see if you're missing something in your diet! Link to email here firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Heightened energy in the evenings. An adrenal fatigue sufferer could find that he/she is tired all day but then in the late evening experience a surge of energy. Usually, cortisol reaches a peak in the late morning and then reduces during the day.
This was me! I would be dead tired all day long, then lay down in bed and suddenly become wide awake. I practiced every sleep hygiene recommendation I could find… but my cortisol level was the problem!
4. Difficulty in handling stress. The normal body’s response to stress is to release specific hormones so that stress can be handled effectively. The three specific hormones are cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine, and knowing how these affect the body helps us understand the relationship to stress.
a. Cortisol. Gives the body extra energy to cope with the stress, it increases memory function, and lowers sensitivity to pain. However, the body needs a rest period after cortisol has been released in a stress-related situation. If a person suffering from adrenal fatigue rarely gets to have the ‘rest period’, over time less and less cortisol is produced.
b. Adrenaline. Probably the most well-known stress response hormone. This gives us the initial burst of energy needed to respond to stress. Once again, adrenal fatigue will affect the amount of this hormone and therefore the response to stress is reduced.
c. Norepinephrine. This hormone helps the brain to focus on stress. Without this active hormone, the response to stress could be described as lethargic.
I’ve always been able to manage high stress and actually thrive in a stressful environment (I know that may sound crazy to some)... but I’m serious. I love drama and stress and it allowed me to flourish as an emergency room nurse. But one day it seemed that I was drowning in stress. I couldn’t manage or think and easily felt overwhelmed. Getting my hormones straight has been a game-changer.
Although I no longer have the fast-paced stressful job in the emergency room, I can manage my stress more effectively now that my body is functioning optimally. I also use techniques like meditation and yoga to help!
5. More infections. Cortisol helps to regulate the immune system in the body and cortisol works as an anti-inflammatory. Too much cortisol over an extended period of time hinders the response of the immune system and this results in having more infections. On the other hand, if the adrenal glands are so weakened that they produce too little cortisol then the body’s response is to overreact to infections resulting in certain autoimmune disorders.
Before my diagnosis, it seemed I was always getting sick with a cold. Prior to fibromyalgia I never had any trouble with sickness, even when I worked in pediatrics! What I find fascinating about this correlation is the number of fibromyalgia clients that also have an autoimmune disorder…. and they have never been checked for adrenal fatigue!
For my clients that suffer from fibromyalgia, investigating the adrenal glands is necessary, especially if they are someone who has a high-stress job or is chronically stressed.
Each symptom of adrenal fatigue is far too common in clients that have fibromyalgia. If you would like to learn more about adrenal fatigue and how it may be affecting your fibromyalgia please click the link below and set up a free consultation now!