Exhaustion and low energy are often a result of abnormalities on the insides. While it is normal to feel tired occasionally when overworked, stressed or not getting enough sleep, chronic fatigue is an warning symptom that something is not right, and may conditions may worsen if untreated.
Chronic fatigue is characterized by many symptoms: fatigue that is not alleviated by rest, extreme fatigue with light exertion, cognitive decline and poor memory, and depression. The causes for fatigue vary greatly, stemming from diet imbalances, lifestyle habits, stress, and medications or systemic illnesses, such as Hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, diabetes, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, and heart disease.
The body excels in dealing with acute damage or stress by utilizing our fight-or-flight system to allow us to meet challenges while performing at a high level. Yet, chronic stress, day after day without relief leads to burnout and slows down all body systems. The response to continuous stress over prolonged periods is typically poor adrenal performance and fatigue and abnormal cognitive, metabolic, and immune function.
Adrenal fatigue describes a phenomenon when cortisol levels drop. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, functions as part of the immune system, controls inflammation, influences tone of the cardiovascular system, and stimulates the brain. Cortisol levels vary throughout the day, with peak levels in the morning and lower levels throughout the day. Those who suffer from adrenal fatigue and low cortisol levels often have difficulty getting up in the morning, feel tired following hours of adequate rest, are overwhelmed by everyday chores, and may experience depression and low sex drive. Patients with adrenal fatigue may also have daytime fatigue combined with insomnia as a result of abnormal cortisol and other hormone levels. Those who experience adrenal fatigue are vulnerable to decreased blood sugar levels, weakness, sweats, light-headedness, tremors, frequent infections and are more susceptible to unfavorable health conditions.
Treatment for fatigue varies on an individual basis and requires thorough diagnostic testing and a comprehensive evaluation of your lifestyle, environmental exposures, genetics, and past medical history. Understanding the role of nutrition in your battle against fatigue is a critical component towards recovery.
If you are experiencing symptoms of fatigue, schedule a consultation today to restore your energy and discover the underlying issues that drive your fatigue with the Functional Medicine approach.