Do you feel easily overwhelmed, or have trouble recalling words or names, or feel foggy and unfocused at times? Do you wake up tired in the morning, and then experience the “wired but tired” feeling in the late evening, with a burst of energy that has you cleaning the kitchen when you should be going to bed? Do you have salt cravings? Sugar and carb cravings? Do you notice increased belly fat without changes to your diet/exercise routine? Do you frequently feel anxious? You may be suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue, also known as HPA axis dysregulation, is a condition where the adrenal glands are over-worked to such a degree that they become unable to produce adequate amounts of cortisol required for daily functioning. Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body manage stress, energy levels, and other bodily functions. When dealing with adrenal fatigue, the body and mind can experience significant fatigue, making it difficult to handle day-to-day tasks.
Adrenal fatigue can occur as the result of many different factors, such as prolonged or excessive stress, chronic infections, metabolic disorders, excessive exercise, dietary issues causing nutrient deficiencies, and hormonal imbalances. These stressors can cause the production of cortisol to decrease, leading to a variety of symptoms.
Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include excessive fatigue, difficulty sleeping, low mood, anxiety, low blood pressure, weakened immunity, and digestive issues. More severe symptoms may include extreme exhaustion, depression, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness. It is important to note that fatigue is only one of many symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue, and that all of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue can also have many other causes. It is also impossible to diagnose adrenal fatigue with a standard blood test.
Proper diagnosis requires specialized evaluation and testing, making it imperative to be seen by a provider who has a strong understanding of adrenal gland and HPA axis functioning. An evaluation will typically include a thorough patient history and discussion of symptoms, as well as specialty (saliva) testing of cortisol levels, and checking levels of thyroid and other hormones related to adrenal function.
Adrenal fatigue can be managed with lifestyle changes and stress reduction, as well as specialized nutritional supplements, medications, and herbal remedies, if needed. Improving nutritional status with diet and supplements, getting adequate rest and sleep, avoiding over-exercising and stimulants, and engaging in coping or relaxation techniques are all extremely important and effective in managing adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms. If you believe you or someone you know may be dealing with adrenal fatigue, it is best to contact a qualified healthcare professional for help.