Adrenal fatigue is characterized by the decreased ability of the adrenal glands to respond appropriately to stress. This syndrome is most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, but can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis, or pneumonia. Adrenal fatigue can also be caused by physical, psychological, environmental, or chemical stressors.
Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc with your life. The syndrome occurs on a spectrum and when adrenals completely fail it is referred to as Addison’s disease. In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day. With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Many alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels to compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price. Changes can occur in your metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, cardiovascular system, and sex drive.
You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet experience a general sense of unwellness, tiredness, or “brain fog.” People with adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, soda and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.
How can I tell if my adrenals are fatigued?
You may be experiencing adrenal fatigue if you regularly notice one or more of the following:
You feel tired for no reason.
You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
You are feeling run-down or overwhelmed.
You have great difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
You crave salty and sweet snacks.
You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.
How to treat adrenal fatigue
The adrenal glands can be restored to proper functioning over time with proper care, stress management, and treatment. To support your adrenal health, it is important to prioritize adequate sleep, balance your blood sugar with regular meals, and avoid caffeine or other stimulants. Your physician may recommend a supplement protocol of adaptogenic herbs such as Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, or Rhodiola; glandular extracts; or glucocorticoid support.
Think you might be suffering from adrenal fatigue?
Contact a naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, certified nutritionist or other qualified health practitioner in your area to find out if they can run an adrenal salivary index test for you.
Adrenal fatigue. The Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database. http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com
- Mahan LK, Escott-Stump S,Raymond JL. Krause’s Food and Nutrition Care Process. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.