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Giving you the physical and emotional resources to do all the things you need to do

Jul 17, 2015

Adrenal fatigue is not a recognized entity in the medical community.  There is a medically recognized similar entity called adrenal insufficiency, which has more severe symptoms.  My take is that adrenal fatigue is another way of describing burnout, which has similar symptoms.   Burnout comes after prolonged stress and overwork, but has the additional emotional component of feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.


What else could be causing your fatigue?

1. Anemia

This is when you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen.  The world health organization estimates that 30% of non-pregnant women are anemic.   That’s a lot of women.  The most common cause is iron deficiency.  Iron is a building block of red blood cells.  If you don’t have enough of it, your red blood cell count will be low.   So this can happen from a diet that is low in iron, but women are especially susceptible to this if you have heavy menstrual periods.


If you have this problem, your doctor may suggest iron supplements.  The problem with iron supplements is they can cause a lot of stomach upset and even constipation.   Fortunately are there iron-rich foods you can eat that can help without the side effects.



2. Thyroid insufficiency

I’ve seen difference prevalence rates for hypothyroidism, ranging anywhere from a few percent to 18%.  We do know that it’s more common in women.  If you have an underactive thyroid, you can get low energy, foggy thinking, weight gain and even depression.  You should have your thyroid checked when you have a standard physical exam, and repeated if you have symptoms that are suggestive of an underactive thyroid.


The treatment for underactive thyroid is thyroid replacement like synthroid or armour thyroid.  Synthroid is the synthetically made hormone, levothyroxine.  Armour thyroid is thyroid hormone extracted from a pig thyroid.  There are other brands of the animal thyroid replacement.  One of the main disadvantages of them is that you may not always get consistent dosing.  They are measured in grains and sometimes the grains may vary in how much thyroid hormone they contain.  This means your thyroid hormone levels can fluctuate from month to month as you get different batches.


3. Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is also a cause of fatigue.  Vitamin D is a hormone that is produced in your skin when you are exposed to the sun.  Things that block this process are darker skin color, clothing, sun screen and decreasing your exposure to the sun.  We tend to get less sun exposure especially as you get older.  We don’t go out for recess and spend more time inside.


Checking your vitamin D is an easy blood test, you may need to ask your doctor to add it on as he or she may not routinely check vitamin D as part of a standard work up.  Vitamin D supplementation is over the counter.  It’s good to know your Vitamin D level, but even if you don’t know it, supplementing with 1000 IU each day is a good start for maintaining normal levels.





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