Adrenal Fatigue is a condition that occurs when the adrenal glands function below the proper level necessary to regulate the body. The short explanation is “lack of adequate cortisol production to cover the daily demands of the person.” It is usually associated with chronic stress, but it can also appear after an intense acute stressful situation. It is considered by many a new “epidemic,” a result of the modern fast pace lifestyle especially in larger cities.
Adrenal fatigue comes with many symptoms besides feeling tired, and it can mimic a variety of disorders. It is not easily recognized by allopathic health care providers, and it can affect your quality of life significantly.
Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms
Each of these symptoms can be a sign of adrenal fatigue, and when clustered together are indicative of the condition named usually “adrenal fatigue syndrome”. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Fatigue (not improving with sleep)
- Body aches
- Weight loss that is unexplained
- Low blood pressure
- Tension headaches
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Body hair loss
- Anxiety & heart palpitations
- Low immunity (frequently sick with colds and flu)
- Skin discoloration, also known as hyper-pigmentation
- Difficulty starting your day (tired and nauseous in the morning)
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels)
- Intolerance to heat, bright lights or loud noises
- Cravings for salt or salty foods
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Adrenal Fatigue Causes & Diagnosis
What causes adrenal fatigue? Anything that can make the adrenal glands work overtime to the point that they can not properly respond to a stressful situation. The “fine response” of cortisol to a stimulus is diminished. This diminished cortisol response is often caused by:
- Stress (emotional, financial, marital, work related)
- Lack of adequate sleep
- Chronic inflammation
- Chronic illness
- Improper diet
- Use of stimulants such a caffeine
While stress is the most common cause of adrenal fatigue, an improper diet high in sugars and stimulants can put extra stress on the adrenal glands. Malnutrition, dieting, gastrointestinal issues, gluten sensitivity and food intolerances can also have a strong causal effect. After prolonged stress or death of a loved one or after an accident, cortisol levels are usually lowered, and it can be difficult for the body to adjust back to normal levels of cortisol production.
Individuals with symptoms of diabetes are also often likely to experience adrenal fatigue due to consistently higher chronic stress levels and stress responses. In a study at the University of Delhi that compared diabetes patients with others, stress levels were considerably higher among those with diabetes.
Adrenal fatigue syndrome can be diagnosed by your naturopathic physician or other healthcare practitioner after a complete intake of your signs and symptoms and following appropriate lab testing. Urine or saliva tests to check your cortisol levels and “biorhythm of your cortisol production” might be needed to assess the severity of your case. Other blood tests or urine tests might be requested to rule out other hormone deficiencies or imbalances that might be contributing factors to your symptoms.
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
What is the best way to treat adrenal fatigue? The answer can be summarized in the following:
- Healthy diet and hydration
- Mild to moderate exercise
- Naturopathic treatments
- Eliminating stress or avoidance of stressful situations
- Use of stress management techniques
- Intravenous vitamins and nutrients to support adrenals
- Use of hormones to support proper bodily functions
Following a diet that is low in sugar, caffeine and processed food is one key way to improve cortisol levels and regain healthy adrenal function. Vitamin supplements such as vitamin B5, B6, B12, and C can also help. Magnesium, probiotics and other herbal and glandular supplements are also helpful as general recommendations. Addressing the underlying causes of stress and inflammation is very important. Staying hydrated by drinking water with trace minerals and non-caffeinated beverages is also vital.
In addition, it is also important to get plenty of sleep. Aim for eight hours nightly and if your body craves more sleep, such as nine or more hours allow yourself to sleep longer. Mild exercise improves sleep, but can also help improve mood, resulting in lowered stress levels. Avoid strenuous workouts because it would be more stressful for the adrenals and can make your symptoms worse. Eliminating stress itself is of vital importance, and the change of perspective that exercise, yoga or meditation can bring, along with the release of endorphins, is an important aspect of adrenal fatigue treatment.
Additionally, herbal supplements, intravenous nutrients, and other naturopathic treatments can help those suffering from adrenal fatigue in strengthening the adrenal glands and regaining healthy cortisol levels. The naturopathic treatment goes beyond supplements in treating the entire person based on physical, mental and emotional components that play a part in an individual’s health and well being.
Contact our office and let Dr. Karampahtsis help you if you think you suffer from adrenal fatigue. He has helped many patients with adrenal fatigue symptoms when other practitioners couldn’t offer adequate results and relief.