Tired all the Time? Discover how to assess if it’s adrenal fatigue.
The most common issue people come and see me is for low energy and tiredness. Tiredness, also called fatigue, affects most people at some point in their lives. As fatigue negatively impacts work performance, family and social relationships, mood, quality of life it definitely needs addressing.
Assessing Your Energy Levels Helps Determine Treatment
It’s important to assess where your energy levels sit, because this is how we work out the best way to treat you, as treatment options vary depending on the stage of adrenal fatigue (learn more about the 4 stages of Adrenal Fatigue) and other issues that may be contributing to you personally.
Also if you can restore your stress response system (adrenal glands) early on it will save you from going down the often debilitating road to burn out, which has serious health consequences, is much harder to treat and with severe adrenal exhaustion, people may never be at 100% energy capacity again.
Tiredness, fatigue and exhaustion all represent various points on an energy scale. One end of the spectrum represents those completely exhausted and bedridden as their adrenal system has basically collapsed. These people need immediate medical attention.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are people who have full vitality, they bounce out of bed looking forward to the day with heaps of energy to enjoy all the things they want to do and seem to cope well with any challenge.
In between there are various states of tiredness with a lot of people these days feeling constantly tired with less than average energy levels.
On a scale of 1 to 10 where is your energy?
You still have enough energy to fulfil commitments, but may feel forgetful, impatient and a bit irritable. You may experience some muscle weakness following work or exercise but this often improves with rest. After a few good nights sleep you start to feel better.
Your energy levels may roller coaster and you start to rely on stimulants and sugar (processed foods- biscuits, cakes, sweets etc.) to get you through the day. You may not feel like yourself (cranky, grumpy, unreasonable) and your performance at work or activities starts to diminish. You may be asking yourself why you feel tired all the time?
You lack energy, feel weak, possibly anxious, have reduced stamina, difficulty sleeping, concentrating, coping with stress, noise and light sensitivity. Your tiredness isn’t relieved by sleep. You may feel flat, overwhelmed and less inclined to join in social activities. Your blood sugar fluctuates and you experience cravings and weight gain.
Your fatigue is ongoing and debilitating, its hard to get out of bed. You experience deep confusion, impaired memory and thinking (brain fog), emotional numbness, depression, loss of interest in life, difficulty staying awake as well as sleeping and withdraw socially. You aren’t able to cope with stress and may feel unwell all the time or get recurrent infections.
So where do you sit? What level do you rate your energy?
Once you know where you are on the energy scale you can determine the best way to start getting back your energy and restoring your adrenal glands.
Treatment varies according to energy levels.
For example, exercise can help relieve plain old tiredness and actually boost energy for these people, but can negatively affect those suffering more depleted stages of fatigue (hence a graded exercise program is advisable) and should be avoided in those who are exhausted until their bodies are able to cope with it.
Caffeine and other stimulants may be tolerated when just ‘tired’, but should be avoided with fatigue or exhaustion, as they trick your body into thinking it has more energy than it actually does, so you do more, further depleting your energy levels.
Detoxification may be beneficial to restore energy when just ‘tired or really tired’, but can make things worse if you have more advanced fatigue (detox should be undertaken under professional guidance here), and should be avoided completely if you are at the exhaustion stage. The priority when adrenally exhausted is to rebuild energy first to allow your body to handle such strategies.
Testing for Adrenal Fatigue
The best way to test for adrenal fatigue is a 24-hour saliva test to measure your stress hormones; cortisol and DHEA-s. You can also get a blood test for these 2 stress hormones through your GP, to gauge your levels.
Sometimes a serious health issue leads to adrenal fatigue due to the stress it places on the body itself. So it’s vital to identify any underlying causes to rule out, or get the proper treatment for, any serious health condition.
Sometimes adrenal fatigue leads to other conditions like low thyroid function, or hormonal imbalances, which can worsen fatigue. Sometimes issues like poor nutrition, digestion and absorption contribute to low energy.
Other tests such as assessing melatonin for sleep issues, sex hormones, thyroid, iron, B12, folate, liver function and electrolytes can also help identify what’s contributing or causing your fatigue.
Fatigue it’s not always straightforward– its not a one size fits all treatment as we are all so individual, with different physical, mental, emotional and life factors.
First, identify the underlying cause of your fatigue is it adrenal fatigue?
Next, assess your energy level and stage of adrenal dysfunction (may require specialist testing). Then, with this information an effective, personalised treatment plan can be designed to rebuild your adrenals and put the bounce back into your step.
Working with a qualified health practitioner who can diagnose you correctly, identify if there are other issues (such as low thyroid or hormonal imbalance) and has the expertise in treating each stage of adrenal fatigue is the best way forward.