What is Adrenal Fatigue?
If you have never heard of adrenal fatigue, you may not even know you have it. Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and are in charge of producing cortisol, which helps regulate your metabolism and helps your body respond to stress. When you undergo long periods of stress without any relief, your adrenal glands can become fatigued. Chronic stress makes your adrenals not produce the hormones that you need to function normally like estrogen, progesterone, neurotransmitters, adrenaline (epinephrine), norepinephrine, and dopamine. The job of these hormones and neurotransmitters is to communicate with other organs like your brain, kidneys, and reproductive system. This can lead to adrenal fatigue or even worse, Addison’s disease.
What Stressors Cause Adrenal Fatigue?
Most of us have a decent amount of stress in our lives, but if you engage in any of these behaviors and activities on a regular basis, you are at risk for adrenal fatigue: lack of sleep, your diet consists mostly of junk and processed foods, you use stimulants like caffeine and sugar to function, you have a rigorous work schedule, you are in an unhealthy relationship or you have just endured the death of a loved one, you overtrain (training without a day of rest), or you don’t have fun or do things that make you happy.
Because we work so hard and are so stressed, we turn to coffee, energy drinks, and sugary snacks to help us get through the day. This just adds to the vicious cycle. When you are stressed, your body goes into flight-or-fight mode. Your body thinks you need an extra burst of energy so it produces more cortisol. Over time, high levels of cortisone production can cause insulin resistance and weaken your immune system.
How Do I Know if I Have Adrenal Fatigue?
There are several signs of adrenal fatigue. You may not exhibit all of these symptoms, but you may have adrenal fatigue if you have unexplained weight loss, body aches and muscle pain, severe fatigue, low blood pressure, salt and sugar cravings, lightheadedness or shakiness after skipping a meal, dizziness when you stand up, feeling tired then “wired”, sleep disturbances, low libido, infertility issues, thyroid imbalances, hair loss, blurred vision, and severe allergies.
What to Do if You Have Adrenal Fatigue
If you think you have adrenal fatigue, you can get tested. A medical professional can administer a saliva test to detect imbalances in cortisol and DHEA. You can also do things to change your life if you have adrenal fatigue. Go to bed at the same time each night and try to get eight hours of quality sleep. Avoid alcohol, sugar, dairy, and gluten. These are inflammatory foods and contribute to adrenal fatigue. Consider taking a B vitamin supplement. B vitamins are critical for the chemical process that occurs in the adrenal glands. Also, try to do something relaxing every day. Take a warm bath, a long walk, meditate, or do yoga.
Most people don’t know that they are in danger of adrenal fatigue until they are very sick. If you feel like this applies to you, try to make some of these changes and see if you start feeling better. You should always seek the advice of a medical or health professional before starting any kind of treatment.