Chronic Fatigue and Hormonal Imbalance
Being tired after a late night is completely logical but being chronically tired no matter the amount of sleep achieved is not. Many people suffer from chronic fatigue even though they get an adequate amount of sleep. The consumption of caffeine does little to ward off the relentless yawns or the inevitable nod-offs. Even when they’re able to take a nap, the fatigue always returns.
These people have a much bigger problem than staying up too late. Their fatigue could actually be a hormonal imbalance, and no amount of sleep or stimulants is going to address this issue. Simple testing will detect which hormonal system is causing the body to slow down.
There are little glands located on top of each kidney. They produce a variety of essential hormones and are extremely important for homeostasis within the body. These adrenal glands respond to stress with a hormone called cortisol. Any time the body encounters stress, this hormone is released. Someone who is chronically stressed can literally exhaust their adrenal glands, reducing or even eliminating cortisol levels within the body. Or the adrenals can produce cortisol when they shouldn’t, like at night. High levels of cortisol at night will make sleeping almost impossible. Racing thoughts or a rapid heartbeat at night could be a sign of a cortisol imbalance. Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include fatigue, difficulty getting up in the morning, more energy in the evening, lightheadedness, a weak immune system, body aches, and unexplained weight loss.
The thyroid gland produces vital hormones. This little gland, located in the base of the neck, influences the function of major organs, including the brain, heart, skin, liver and kidneys. It also helps to regulate heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism. Chronic fatigue is a very common symptom of thyroid disease. Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid, meaning it isn’t producing enough thyroid-related hormones. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, dry skin, constipation, cold sensitivity, and unexplained weight gain. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid is overactive and produces an excessive amount of hormones. Fatigue is still a very common symptom with hyperthyroidism because the condition can result in insomnia, abnormal sleep patterns, and anxiety. Other symptoms include irregular heartbeat, unexplained weight loss, heat sensitivity, excessive hunger, and excessive sweating.
Sex hormones—including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, which are found in both sexes—are also prone to imbalances. When levels of any of these hormones become too high or too low, many symptoms can be experienced. Sex hormone imbalances can cause issues like depression, anxiety, insomnia and brain fog, which can lead to a chronic state of fatigue. The symptoms for this type of hormonal imbalance can be quite long and can range from anything from a low libido to chronic migraines.
Anyone experiencing chronic fatigue should speak with their physician. Many people with chronic but manageable fatigue will be able to self-treat; however, the body is attempting to communicate that something is wrong. Catching an early hormonal imbalance could prevent much more serious conditions. Plus, treatment and recovery could be much swifter.
Some caution should be used when treating the endocrine system. All hormones are delicately interconnected, and treatment requires someone well versed in the field. The right physician will know which tests are appropriate after a consultation and which treatment path is needed. A naturopathic physician can prescribe a natural hormone replacement therapy program. One option is bioidentical hormones, which are hormones the body recognizes as ones it made, nothing synthetic and completely customizable. There are many natural, safe and effective options available through a naturopath. Fatigue can literally slow life down. Diagnosing and reversing it can return life to optimal speed and fulfillment.
Paul Stallone, NMD, founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center, located at 8144 E. Cactus Rd., Ste. 820, in Scottsdale. He combines natural/alternative/conventional treatments for each patient’s needs. For more information, call 480-214-3922 or visit DrStallone.com.