Do you feel tired all the time? Really tired? Many people are. In fact, much of the population experiences fatigue to the point that it affects their ability to perform everyday tasks and lessens productivity at home and at work. This could be due to a number of simple reasons, including poor lifestyle habits and too much stress and worry.

But many times, even those who make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy sleep, diet and exercise routine, and meditate their way through life’s daily stressors, report debilitating levels of fatigue. If this is you, it’s possible there is a medical explanation for your exhaustion.

A variety of ailments can cause chronic fatigue, including sleep disorders, hypothyroidism, diabetes and anemia to name a few. In the absence of these, the culprit could be Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.

The adrenal glands are two walnut sized glands located above your kidneys. Although quite small, they have a big job: managing stress — and not just the emotional kind. The adrenals help determine your body’s response to all kinds of body stressors, including injury and illness, by producing a variety of important hormones. When you’re under stress, and we all are at times, the adrenals respond with an increased release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, among others, in an effort to regain a natural hormone balance and fight the perceived threat.

This ultimately controls body balance as it affects blood sugar levels, your body’s salt to water ratio and the production of estrogen and testosterone. However, when the stress is excessive or consistent, whether mental or physical, the process backfires, overtaxing the adrenal glands and resulting in adrenal fatigue. Ironically, the stress glands themselves become “stressed out,” unable to perform their tasks.

Adrenal fatigue often takes a while to diagnose by conventional practitioners who generally tend to treat symptoms. These can range from increased allergies, skin issues, and dizziness to depression, concentration/memory problems, autoimmune disorders and a low sex drive, often in combination. In addition, testing used to check adrenal function often is not thorough enough to diagnose adrenal fatigue. If you suspect your adrenals are the problem, request a salivary cortisol test for the most accurate assessment.

The good news is, once diagnosed, there are a variety of natural ways to address the adrenal fatigue issue, but it’s not always as easy as simply revamping your approach to sleep, diet, exercise and stress management. That’s because often the adrenal fatigue itself causes sleeplessness and appetite changes making it next to impossible to get good sleep or eat a balanced diet. A doctor experienced in holistically treating adrenal fatigue can provide supplements to strengthen adrenal function and help design a lifestyle program to not only determine what overtaxed the glands in the first place, but guide you through the healing process to better body balance. Over time, a directed whole body approach can nudge you back to adrenal health.