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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Adrenal Fatigue -- What's That Nasty Smell?

Believe it or not, a heightened awareness of nasty smells is one of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. I discovered that little tidbit recently when I found out that I was suffering from adrenal exhaustion ... along with an estimated 80% of the American population. Now you might think it strange that a cowgirl like me might notice more icky smells, being surrounded as I am by horse poop, dirt, male goats, and cows, but I did notice. So it all made sense when I was told by my physician that I had adrenal fatigue.

So what is adrenal fatigue? It's just what it sounds like: it is what happens when your adrenal glands get over-worked and under-nourished, so they become fatigued. Why are adrenal glands important? Well, these little pea-sized glands that sit atop the kidneys secrete hormones that allow us to deal with immediate and long-term stress. The adrenals secrete over 50 different hormones, including adrenaline, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and DHEA. You've probably heard of most of these hormones. These hormones are what give us the ability to "get up and go," providing the energy we need to deal with our hectic and over stimulated lives.

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms
Unfortunately, these glands, when over-stressed, eventually stop working, and then we end up with adrenal fatigue symptoms, which include:

- chronic fatigue and tiredness
- depression
- inability to think clearly
- chronic anxiety
- low blood sugar
- decreased metabolism
- changes in skin color
- craving for sweet or salty foods
- joint pain
- decreased immune function
- low body temperature
- allergies and food sensitivities
- dark circles under the eyes

There are other symptoms of adrenal fatigue that could be added to the list, but you get the general idea. Our adrenal glands do a lot for our bodies and when we overuse them, they burnout.

Causes of Adrenal Fatigue
In general, our modern lifestyle is a recipe for adrenal exhaustion and burnout. Our adrenal glands suffer when we demand too much of them. Our minds are active and full of ideas, but our bodies can't keep up. Specifically, lifestyle habits that overstress the adrenals include:

- too little sleep
- poor diet
- use of caffeine or other stimulants
- use of medication to get to sleep at night
- use of medication to treat anxiety or depression
- perfectionism
- constant physical, mental, or emotional stress
- over stimulation from cell phones, music, traffic, pagers, and email

You get the picture ... it's nothing out of the ordinary in our modern lives. For most people, it's just a snapshot of everyday life. But it's hell on the adrenal glands. In fact, modern life has such a strong negative effect on the adrenals that some women suffering from adrenal fatigue are showing signs of menopause as early as their mid-30s. Yikes! You read it right: adrenal burnout can cause early aging.

Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
Luckily, treatment is possible for this condition. The treatments fall into three basic categories:

1) Herbal and nutritional support (I like Eleviv)
2) Lifestyle changes
3) Reenergizing practices

This article is the first in a series on regaining health after adrenal fatigue, and future articles will cover specific strategies for doing so. The prognosis for coming out of adrenal fatigue is generally quite positive, and many physicians offer the following time frame for recovery:

- 6 to 9 months for minor fatigue
- 12 to 18 months for moderate fatigue
- Up to 24 months for severe fatigue

As you can see, the road back to energetic and vital health isn't a short one ... but then again, most people don't achieve adrenal fatigue overnight either! Stay tuned for more information on adrenal fatigue treatment, or browse the Zen Cowgirl blog to read more.

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4 comments:

  1. WOW!!!!...That's amazing....I had NO idea about Adrenal Fatigue....THANKS so much for sharing Stephanie!! ^___^

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  2. Thanks for this article Stephanie I would love to read an update to see how you are feeling now and what other resources you may have come upon. I have been suffering from adrenal adrenal fatigue for many years now but in the past year it has gotten so bad that has truly affected my life. In addition to that I have major GI autoimmune and thyroid issues as well...as a 32 year-old mother of two I can't afford for my life to be swept out from underneath me but that is exactly what has happened the past year. Any advice would be much appreciated xo xo

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  3. Thanks for this article Stephanie I would love to read an update to see how you are feeling now and what other resources you may have come upon. I have been suffering from adrenal adrenal fatigue for many years now but in the past year it has gotten so bad that has truly affected my life. In addition to that I have major GI autoimmune and thyroid issues as well...as a 32 year-old mother of two I can't afford for my life to be swept out from underneath me but that is exactly what has happened the past year. Any advice would be much appreciated xo xo

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  4. hello, i am suffering from an adrenal fatigue, which gives me everything, from joint pains to tinnitus to weight gain to headaches, backaches. .. i would like to know if all this will eventually go away. ..especially the tinnitus and weight gain. ..? and if i should avoid certain foods. like gluten robably.

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