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Adrenal Fatigue - Chronic Fatigue Symptoms

Adrenal Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Symptoms and Treatments

Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, was not even officially considered an illness until 1988. It is a complex illness that has a vague combination of symptoms and unknown cause. CFS symptoms can include: fatigue that returns for at least six months, fever, muscle and joint pain, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, memory loss, and inability to concentrate. Besides the theory that CFS is caused by a viral infection (described below), there are other proposed causes for CFS, including: anemia, sleep disorders, arthritis, yeast overgrowth, mercury and other heavy metal toxins, low-functioning thyroid gland, and low blood sugar. Many people with CFS also have allergies and/or food sensitivities. CFS often affects younger adults, coining the term “the yuppie disease”. The percentage of people that have CFS is hard to calculate, since its symptoms can resemble depression, influenza, mononucleosis, or fibromyalgia. One estimate puts the percentage of Americans with CFS at only 0.2%, but that figure may in reality be much higher.

Many experts think that a virus such as EBV can contribute or even cause CFS. However, this opinion is controversial, since the about 90% of Americans have EBV antibodies in their blood, indicating that they have been exposed to the virus in the past, but only a very small percentage of them have CFS. Dr. Jensen and others believe that conditions like CFS are caused by an environmental overload of stress on the body. Lack of exercise, poor eating habits, long work hours, lack of sleep, alcohol and/or drug use, pollution, etc., all add up to put an enormous burden on the body. This may allow a normally resting virus in the body, like EBV, to overcome the now weakened immune system. Most viruses come and go, but some, like EBV, a member of the herpiesvirus family, stay in a person forever. With a permanently-entrenched virus and a weak immune system, the result is CFS symptoms, like sore throat, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.

Whatever the underlying causes, CFS is certainly a stress-related disease. There are many different kinds of stress, including: relationship and spiritual-related stressors, physical stressors (ex. hard labor), traumatic (ex. infection, burns), chemical (environ-mental pollution), nutritional (ex. vitamin deficiencies), mental (ex. perfectionism), and emotional. When confronted with stress, the brain releases a chemical called ACTH. This hormone sends a signal to the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, a similar hormone called noradrenaline, and the master stress hormone cortisol. Adrenaline and nor-adrenaline act to raise blood pressure and shut down digestion. This is one of the reasons why many people get indigestion when they feel stressed. Adrenaline also raises blood sugar levels. This is helpful for short term “fight-or-flight” stress responses, but very harmful over the long term, since it can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.

As mentioned above, cortisol is a very important hormone that helps the body deal with stress. Symptoms of cortisol deficiency include: low blood sugar, weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, anorexia, vomiting, and nausea. Unfortunately, the hormone cortisol can suppress the immune system, which can lead to chronic infections. This can produce a vicious cycle of stress followed by illness. Eventually, under constant and chronic stress, the adrenal glands can become exhausted. Blood pressure and blood sugar may drop to below-normal levels. Fatigue and depression can then set in. Other stress-related symptoms can include: sexual problems, irritability, weight changes, muscle tension, loss of appetite, back pain, diarrhea or constipation, indigestion, and insomnia. Diseases that can have stress as a major contributor include: atherosclerosis, allergies and asthma, high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, and ulcers.

Exercise, good mental attitude, and proper diet, including the elimination of yeast-containing foods and dairy products, may greatly improve CFS symptoms. Adequate protein in the diet is needed to help combat stress. Protein is broken down to amino acids, which are then used to make stress hormones and neurotransmitters. Supplements can be helpful as well. One study found that people with CFS had magnesium levels below normal. Magnesium supplementation has proven beneficial for 70-80% of CFS and fibromyalgia sufferers. A combination of evening primrose oil (EPO) and concentrated fish oil was very effective in treating multiple CFS-related symptoms in patients. The supplement NADH may help symptoms of CFS. Vitamin B12 is required to make adrenaline, and vitamin B5 is required to make a group of stress-fighting hormones called glucocorticoids. Cortisol is one of the glucocorticoids, so obviously the B-vitamins are very important to help fight stress.

One of the illnesses related to CFS is fibromyalgia, or fibrositis disorder. It is classified under the rheumatic disorders, but it is not an autoimmune disease, as far as experts know. There is chronic muscle pain for three months or more, and also stiffness that is usually greater in the morning. Other symptoms can include: temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, impaired memory, impaired coordination, fatigue, depression, and insomnia. The diagnosis is often made when a doctor applies pressure at 18 “tender points” at different areas of the body. If at least 11 of the 18 tender points cause pain after pressure is applied, then the patient probably has fibromyalgia.

There are at least five million Americans that have fibromyalgia, the majority of whom are women. Many people that think they have CFS actually have fibromyalgia. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Factors that can contribute to fibromyalgia include: allergies and sensitivities, infections (especially chronic yeast infections), digestive enzyme deficiencies, immune dysfunction, environmental toxicity, endocrine imbalances, stress and psychological issues, and nutritional deficiencies. Although fibromyalgia is a chronic condition and can be very painful, it is not a progressive or life-threatening condition. People with fibromyalgia need to drink plenty of spring water (at least eight glasses a day), since water hydrates the muscles, reducing pain, and also helps to remove toxins from the muscles and the rest of the body. If you have CFS or fibromyalgia and plan to start exercising, start slowly. Notify your physician that you intend to have a long-term exercise plan. You may want to consult a physical therapist, especially if you have fibromyalgia. If you have CFS or fibromyalgia, it’s important to remember that there are practitioners who recognize the illnesses are real and treatable. They are not in your mind, but your mind can help manage the illness if it is in a positive and constructive state.

Dr. Jensen provides science-based holistic health care and guidance. He can advise you on specific problems you are experiencing, or help you create a comprehensive health care plan for optimum health.

Dr. Jensen will provide you with a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and suggest a course of action.

Contact Dr. Jensen at 1-800-390-5365 or use the contact form.

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