I’ve had a really, really rough year.
A couple of health scares and hospital visits [that didn’t involve having babies], getting the real, full-blown flu and having my mother-in-law living with me for half of it. It was tough and I was exhausted.
I just couldn’t shake the fog in my head. No matter how much I rested, I still felt completely drained of all energy. It reminded me of the time I had glandular fever as a teen, so I had some blood taken to see if they could work out the problem. NOTHING. It’s like I was running on only 2 cylinders when I would normally use all 8 [you bet I’m a V8!].
Then I read something about Adrenal Fatigue and a little light went off in my foggy head.
1. What is adrenal fatigue?
Basically, it’s the result of the adrenal gland not functioning properly. When the glands don’t respond adequately to stress on the body – including mental [MIL] and physical [SURGERY] stressors – extreme fatigue results. This isn’t relieved by rest or sleep. Over-stimulation of the adrenal glands through extreme stress may result in decreased regulatory hormones. This causes an inadequate response.
Adrenal fatigue is medically different than adrenal insufficiency. Adrenal insufficiency occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone – a result of damage to the gland itself or to the nearby pituitary gland.
2. What causes it?
There is no one singular cause. A highly stressful situation or illness can result in adrenal fatigue. For some people, lifestyle factors such as substance abuse, poor diet or lack of sleep can lead to this condition.
3. What are the symptoms?
Tiredness for no reason, difficulty waking in the morning, a general rundown feeling, feeling the most awake in the evening. The symptoms are often non-specific and may fit with a variety of conditions.
4. How is it diagnosed?
There are no specific tests to diagnose this condition. The thing is, the term ‘adrenal fatigue’ isn’t necessarily accepted by all doctors and medical professionals as a true medical condition which can cause problems when seeking a diagnosis. Blood tests do exist to test for adrenal insufficiency though. Adrenal fatigue is typically diagnosed based on the symptoms and by ruling out other medical conditions and illnesses.
5. What is the treatment?
There is no pharmacological treatment for this condition. Some people who suffer from this problem take supplements or vitamins. However, taking certain supplements without being assessed by a professional may cause more harm than good when it comes to the adrenal gland’s functioning. The only known treatment for this condition is to remove the stressor behind it. Additionally, making lifestyle changes (such as getting more rest, not using drugs/alcohol or reducing stressful situations) may help.
6. How many people have it?
Because of the non-specific nature of this condition and the inability for doctors to provide a definitive diagnosis (i.e., based on blood tests or a similar type of lab test), there aren’t clear-cut numbers. A 2008 study of Australian women (by Newspoll) found that 800 of 1,000 women ages 18-54 reported having fatigue or tiredness that affected their lives. This poll didn’t survey women diagnosed with adrenal fatigue but has been used by adrenal fatigue groups/organisations to show the prevalence of non-specific fatigue symptoms.
Now I can almost guarantee that many of you are reading this and thinking “YES! This is ME!” If you feel as though you are affected by adrenal fatigue, please see your GP in the first instance. Constant fatigue is a symptom of many ailments [not JUST motherhood!] and your first stop should be your doc.
If you have a trusted naturopath, make a time to see them too.
I did both and can happily report that the fog has lifted. I’m still KNACKERED but the normal, doing-too-much kind of tired that I know you know all about!