Out of gas. Exhausted. Dragging. Pushing just to make it through the day. These are just a handful of the ways our patients describe their fatigue. Fatigue is a tricky thing – so often we ignore it, because life can be tiring. We have work, kids, family, finances, errands, to-do lists, and worries which all add up to fatigue! When we feel run down it’s easy to say, “Well, yes I’m tired, but _____”. It’s important to remember that fatigue can actually be a sign of something much bigger happening, and that being checked by a doctor can make all the difference!
Discover the Cause
Just a small sampling of the things that can cause fatigue includes: high blood pressure, high/low blood sugar, thyroid disorders, sleep disorders, hormone imbalance, obesity, cardiovascular disease, clinical depression, viral infections, food intolerances, chronic inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. You name it, it can probably make you feel tired. A visit with one of our physicians can quickly tell you whether one of these things is to blame.
Stress can cause weight gain. A hormone called cortisol is usually responsible. An imbalance (either too high or too low) can trigger your body to hold onto all the calories and turn them into fat. It will slow metabolism down and make weight loss nearly impossible. Testing can identify an imbalance in cortisol associated with adrenal dysfunction. The weight gain with this is usually around the middle commonly known as the “spare tire” or “love handles”.
One of the lesser known causes of fatigue is Adrenal Dysfunction, commonly called Adrenal Fatigue. The adrenal glands are small but mighty, controlling your stress response (to physical, mental, and emotional stressors), blood sugar, energy, libido, salt/fluid levels, mood, sleep/wake cycles and more. Over time, and with single severe stressors (like a surgery or the death of a loved one), or with chronic daily stress, the adrenal glands begin to produce less and less of the necessary hormones to regulate these things. The result is feeling tired despite adequate sleep, or not being able to sleep despite feeling tired, weight gain, water retention, mood disorders and a host of other symptoms. In our fast-paced and high-stress society this condition affects millions, but unfortunately conventional medicine does not recognize adrenal dysfunction until the glands completely collapse with dire consequences. We are here to give you the help you need BEFORE that happens, when we can still heal and recover the adrenal glands.
Testing for adrenal fatigue involves a simple saliva test, which will check your cortisol levels at 4 different times throughout the day. This allows your doctor to see whether your body is producing enough cortisol at the appropriate times.
Treating adrenal fatigue is done through a variety of methods, including diet, botanical medicines, adrenal-specific nutrients, blood-sugar stabilizing dietary change, thyroid support, and in some cases replacing the hormones your adrenals aren’t making with bio-identical medications. It is also crucial to make sure that your day-to-day routine allows for adrenal healing as well – we look at factors such as sleep patterns, sleep quality, the type and amount of exercise you do, the timing and content of your meals, and we help with stress-management.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
If addressing your adrenal health still hasn’t alleviated your fatigue, you may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This complicated and multi-faceted condition is often overlooked by conventional medicine and requires a well-rounded, comprehensive treatment approach. Chronic Fatigue is often related to chronic infections (especially viral), chemical sensitivity, food intolerance, hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, and digestive disorders. That is a tremendous load for the body to fight against and so you feel tired. Working with your naturopathic physician will allow you to prioritize which element is the biggest factor for you, and which is the best approach to help you feel better quickly.
Read Kim’s Story of overcoming fatigue with Naturopathic Medicine.