What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is best described as a collection of symptoms stemming from dysfunction of the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress.
When the body perceives stress, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol to help the body cope with this stress. Chronic stress on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) can overwhelm the body and reduce cortisol production, resulting in adrenal fatigue.
Many health care professionals take symptoms of adrenal fatigue seriously, given that common adrenal fatigue symptoms can cause widespread and debilitating effects.
However, it’s also important to realize that all of the following symptoms can have many other underlying causes. If you recognize these signs in your body it does not necessarily mean that you suffer from adrenal fatigue, which is why it’s recommended to consult with an adrenal fatigue specialist to determine the underlying causes of your symptoms.
The Importance of The Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands are crucial for the body’s response to stress, so when they are tired they cannot help the body respond to physical or emotional stress.
The term “adrenal fatigue” was coined by James L. Wilson, PhD in his book called Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndrome.
In the book, he claims that 40% of the estrogen in females and testosterone in males are secreted in the adrenal glands. These glands are important for functions all over the body, particularly in responding to stress.
The unproven theory claims that adrenal insufficiency is caused by a decreased function in these glands.
While blood tests and medical examinations can’t readily prove the legitimacy of this rationale, there are multiple anecdotal accounts from people suffering from an unexplained exhaustion that make adrenal fatigue hard to disprove outright.
Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
Typically, people suffering from adrenal fatigue experience some of the following symptoms:
- Constant tiredness
- Aches in the body
- Body hair loss
- Unexplained weight loss
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
- Low blood pressure
There are also lesser-known adrenal fatigue symptoms that may arise due to this problem in one or two adrenal glands. These include:
- Weight gain
- Frequent urination
- Low libido
- Muscle deficiency
If you suffer from any of the above conditions, you may benefit from consulting a professional medical doctor to treat adrenal fatigue or detect adrenal fatigue.
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
The causes of adrenal tiredness are not clear. There is no single or simple explanation for what causes this condition at the root level, but it’s often associated with long-term stress and impaired cortisol levels in the blood.
The potential causes of adrenal fatigue are thought to be:
- Extreme stress that requires prolonged cortisol secretion
- Emotional stressors, such as grief and trauma
- Autoimmune disorders
- Overuse of antibiotics
If the adrenal glands are overworked, you’ll have an increased chance of having adrenal fatigue. You may need an adrenal fatigue diagnosis from a doctor if you suspect you have this condition or other digestive and kidney diseases.
Addison’s Disease vs Adrenal Fatigue
Addison’s disease and adrenal fatigue appear similar at first glance, but they’re different conditions. The reason for their similarity is because they both touch upon insufficient cortisol production caused by adrenal glands, or adrenal insufficiency.
The main difference between the two is that adrenal fatigue is caused by the overexertion of healthy adrenal glands, which causes stress.
In addition, Addison’s Disease has a pathological origin, meaning it has a root-level cause while adrenal fatigue is a condition that arises due to long-term stressors.
The most common tests for this disease include:
- Blood tests
- ACTH stimulation tests
- Insulin-induced hypoglycemia tests
- Imaging tests
If you think you may have Addison’s disease, make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. About 0.6 of 100,000 people suffer from it, meaning it’s not a very common condition.
What to Eat if You Have Adrenal Fatigue?
It’s important to eat a balanced adrenal fatigue diet to support your adrenal health. About 27% of adults engage in stress eating, so it’s crucial to make sure the food you eat is good for you.
Some foods to include in your diet to improve your eating habits include:
- Fruits: Mango, Kiwi, Papaya, Pears, Apples, Plums
- Vegetables: Pepper and bright, non-starchy variants
- Healthy fats: Fatty fish, olive oil, flaxseed oil, and grapeseed oil
- Whole grains
- Salt (in moderation): sea salt
Eating a balanced diet helps you stay healthy, so don’t underestimate its ability to help you become better.
What Foods to Avoid if You Have Adrenal Fatigue?
Conversely, it’s important to limit the intake of certain types of food. This is to improve blood sugar levels and decrease medical conditions such as adrenal fatigue from occurring, as well as mitigate the risk of other symptoms and health problems.
- White sugar
- Fried food
- Processed food
- Artificial sweeteners
- Stimulants like caffeine
What you eat can play a big role in improving or worsening your physical state. Thus, it’s important to always have balanced meals and avoid junk food and skipping meals.
Treatment of Adrenal Fatigue
Treatment for adrenal fatigue usually comes in the form of natural lifestyle modifications and medical therapies that are specialized to your specific situation, that aim to support stress management in the body.
The most important thing to do is to find ways of reducing stress in the body since that’s what can cause adrenal fatigue in the first place.
If you find yourself working 12-to-14-hour days, you’ll need to find ways to lower working hours as unhealthy working hours can take a toll on how much cortisol your body consumes.
You also need to make time for a healthy sleep schedule of about 8 hours of sleep each night. This will help your body to recharge and improve and preserve optimal adrenal function and energy levels throughout the day.
With the increasing number of stressors in our environment and the resulting chronic stress, adrenal fatigue is a common problem.
But fortunately, with the right lifestyle changes, anyone can rise above the condition and live a healthy life.
Don’t know how to start?
Let the professional doctors at Paramount Men’s Medical Center in St. Louis provide medical advice to help you stay on top of your health and give you a relevant diagnosis.
We are one of Missouri’s leading men’s clinics providing ED therapy, Acoustic Wave therapy, adrenal fatigue therapy, and much more. We will tailor a plan to your unique needs, history, and circumstances so you can get the best results possible. Give us a call today to set an appointment with our expert medical staff.