Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms and Treatment : Most humans suffer from fatigue at some stage in their lives – it can be as a result of many reasons. You would probably be surprised by just how many things cause a person to experience genuine fatigue, sometimes so severe that they are forced to go and see the doctor. Just some causes of fatigue are caused by our lifestyles like using drugs and alcohol, depression, unhealthy eating habits, disease, obesity, anxiety, and others. Have you ever heard of adrenal fatigue? We are going to cover that one today – a lot of people have not even heard of such a thing, but it might be just what is plaguing you.
What are the Adrenal Glands?
A person’s adrenal glands are two small organs, not larger than your thumb. They are situated just above your kidneys, forming part of your endocrine system. What is that? Your endocrine system is all your glands that produce the hormones that regulate growth and development, your metabolism, your tissue function, your reproduction systems, your sexual function, your sleep patterns and your mood, and others.
Your hormones affect your whole body both directly and indirectly, responding to your body in a very sensitive way as they delicately balance your body. It is your adrenal glands that are pumping out different hormones every day, on which your life depends. Some of these are your stress hormones which play a huge role in your body; managing your weight, your sleep, your electrolyte balance, aiding your sleep and your concentration, contributing to your sex drive and so on. And it’s why adrenal fatigue and hormonal balances go hand in hand, impacting on your life a great deal.
If you do suffer from adrenal fatigue symptoms, you might or not be aware that there are two classes. One type, if you have been to your doctor about this, is Addison’s disease. Addison’s disease is when your adrenal glands are unwell; you might suffer from adrenal cancer, an infection and even bleeding. Primary adrenal insufficiency happens when about 90% of your adrenal cortex is damaged; destroyed. When your adrenal glands are not functioning properly, it means they are not producing the right levels of the vital hormones referred to above.
The other class of adrenal disorder is more common. This class shows no physical illness. Rather, stress-related reactions start to take place in your body. This class is called secondary adrenal insufficiency, and can still seriously result in symptoms and hormonal imbalance in your body.
Knowing the Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms
You might seem to be experiencing a little bit more stress in your life than you usually have. When your fatigue lasts longer than 2 weeks, it is known as chronic fatigue. These are some of the adrenal fatigue symptoms to look out for:
- Weakness in the muscles
- Changes in your appetite, particularly when you have loss of appetite, causing weight loss
- Digestive problems such as nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting
- Dizziness, low blood pressure, and fainting
- Changes in your mood such as depression and irritability
- Longing for salty foods
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar
- Problems sleeping, so you always feel tired
- Night sweating and other sweating
- Irregular or missed periods I women
- Low sexual drive
These adrenal fatigue symptoms aren’t just going to appear out the blue one day – they are going to start occurring gradually – can even be triggered off by an extremely stressful event in your life. A lot of people will describe what is happening to them as feeling wired, but at the same time, tired. You can still feel alert, and yet you are so fatigued, you are irritable and stressed all at the same time.
When people go through traumatic life experiences, they develop “adrenal crisis”. This makes all the above adrenal fatigue symptoms even worse where they end up at a doctor, looking for medical treatment. When this happens, you are looking at life-threatening symptoms which must be treated by the professional immediately – you must not wait when these symptoms show up.
Here is how the National Institute of Health describes adrenal fatigue symptoms:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Coma or confusion
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Pain in the flank
- Having a high fever
- No appetite
- Loss of consciousness
- Low blood pressure
- Extreme weakness
- Rapid heart rate as well as rapid respiratory rate
- Slow and sluggish movements
- Excessive and unusual sweating on the palms and face
What will a doctor do in this emergency?
When you are undergoing an adrenal fatigue symptoms, you will usually require large doses of steroid injections, you will need fluid intake as well such as electrolytes in order to restore the pituitary gland and adrenal gland function. If you leave it untreated, other serious symptoms can develop and you can die suddenly.
But what causes you to suffer from adrenal insufficiency?
This disorder occurs when the body doesn’t produce sufficient amounts of the necessary hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands. This could be insufficient amounts of cortisol and aldosterone. This disorder or disease is called Addison's disease as mentioned above. It can occur in any age group and either sex can be susceptible to this disease. It’s not a disease you want to ever experience in your lifetime as it can be life-threatening.
The treatment you will receive will entail taking the hormones that are not being supplied sufficiently by the adrenal glands. The medicinal hormones that your doctor will give you to take will mimic the natural effects of the ones that are not functioning correctly and naturally.
What caused you to develop this disease?
As mentioned before, your adrenal glands are damaged and that is probably why you have the disease. But what caused them to get damaged, you ask. The adrenal glands consist of two parts, the interior which is also called the medulla and the outside which is known as the cortex. Some hormones that the cortex produces are vital for your life. These are the mineralocorticoids and the glucocorticoids. Let’s quickly look at these two:
Mineralocorticoids: These are the hormones which maintain your balance of potassium and sodium which are responsible to keep your blood pressure normal.
Glucocorticoids: These hormones are the ones that convert your food into energy. They play a big role in your body’s inflammatory responses and the way you respond to stress.
Androgens are also produced by the adrenal glands. These are male sex hormones and appear in quantities in both men and women, influencing your muscle mass, libido and what makes you feel good – in both men and women.
But now your cortex is damaged and it is not producing these hormones like it should, not in the right quantities either. What caused the damage to the cortex that it is not producing properly? The damage came from autoimmune disease to the cortex – severe stress like undergoing surgery, a death in the family, or life changing events, infections or injury to the body – all these are why the cortex got damaged. There are other causes too. These can be:
- A disease such as Tuberculosis or TB
- Other infections that attack the adrenal glands
- Cancer which spreads to the adrenal glands
- Bleeding which goes into the adrenal glands and which might not even have shown any preceding symptoms.
- Being exposed to toxins and pollution
- Not having sufficient sleep
- Poor diet
- Insufficient exercising
Cortex damage is no joke
If we quickly switch over to babies, there is a form of adrenal insufficiency. It is called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH). It is genetic. Fortunately, this is rare in babies and it affects only one baby for every 10,000-18,000 babies. Babies, in many states, are tested for CAH, but to date, there is still no found cure or treatment as yet
We know that stress can cause extreme fatigue, studies prove this. One study showed students who experienced long-term stress when they were preparing for their major medical exams. It was found that many students experienced impairment in their cortisol awakening responses. A surge in cortisol naturally happens every morning as you wake up, but having stress can actually inhibit your ability to wake up fully, and this does not matter how much sleep you get.
Depression also plays a huge role in adrenal fatigue developing. And who suffer from diabetes are also at risk for getting adrenal fatigue. It is considered that impaired glucose tolerances might show a connection with the adrenal glands being overtaxed.
The Mayo Clinic studies reveal that when patients are assessed for extreme fatigue, that it could well be Addison’s disease. We know now that this disease can occur when your adrenal glands aren’t producing cortisol in the right amounts, due to damage to the adrenal glands.
Naturally, because there are many symptoms that are related to adrenal fatigue, it does not mean you have adrenal fatigue, it could be signs of other disorders underlying. But take heart, if you have experienced real adrenal fatigue, there are many wonderful natural ways that support your adrenal system to get it on the road to health again. Let’s follow the steps:
- Seeing as stress is a huge reason why you experience cortisol damage, you need to search for ways of reducing stress on and in your body as well as your mind, eliminating the toxins, not thinking negatively, replenishing and strengthening your body with many healthy foods. This is a top priority if you want to get better.
- Now that we have the stress issues out of the way, diet is the next important step. You will discover that there are quite a lot of foods that will offer your adrenal glands support; they will help to replenish your adrenal energy to enable you to get back to full health again. But before offering you the right type of foods to take, first you need to avoid the bad foods, you need to avoid ingesting toxins and chemicals. What are the kinds of food that you must avoid?
- Caffeine is one. Caffeine is known to mess with your sleep cycles, and just in general, give your adrenals a hard time towards recovery. If you have to have coffee or any beverage with caffeine in it, try and limit your intake, and preferably have it in the morning.
- Sweeteners and sugars: Avoid artificial sweeteners and any high-fructose corn syrups, avoid cereals covered in sugar and sweets. Bear in mind that sugar is found even in many condiments, bread, and dressings. Rather use raw honey.
- Carbohydrates are also a no-no. No, not all carbohydrates are bad for you, however, they are known to because inflammation which can be a real problem when you experience adrenal fatigue. When people are under stress, they usually crave the heavy carbohydrates; it’s comfort food. These can offer some satisfaction, but they will tax your adrenal glands heavily. When you feel stressed and overwhelmed, try and kick out the starchy carbohydrates and gluten and see if it does improve on your energy and tiredness levels.
- Avoid microwaved and processed foods. The microwave is another danger to your health all on its own, but that is a topic for another day. But most of the highly processed foods which can be microwaved usually contain heaps of fillers and preservatives in them – these wear out your digestion cycle and your energy levels. Try and prepare your own food wherever possible, trying to use natural products too.
- Processed meats and overloads of proteins can cause stress to your hormones more than you realize. Added hormones in processed meats can throw out your system badly. Concentrate on meat that comes strictly from grass-fed beef cows and not grain fed cows. Buy free-range chicken and turkey, but eat it in moderation.
- Stay away from hydrogenated oils. Vegetable oils like soybean oils, canola oil, and corn oils are oils that cause inflammation. Eat or cook with the good oils like olive oil, coconut oil, and organic butter.
Right, now that you are going to work in clearing your body of the above toxins, let’s look at the foods that contain healing properties, the top super-foods. These are:
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
- Chicken and turkey that is free range
- Make your own bone broth
- Fatty fish such as salmon
- Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and seeds like chia, flax, and pumpkin
- Take supplements of kelp and seaweed if you can’t find it naturally
- Trying using Himalaya or Celtic salt
- Foods rich in probiotics such as kefir
- Medicinal mushrooms
The above foods are there to help you overcome adrenal fatigue. These are all nutrient-dense foods that consist of little sugar and plenty of fibers and fats.
It can be really frustrating to have ongoing, persistent symptoms that when you ask your doctor, he can’t really explain them to you, or put his finger on it. But getting a diagnosis from an unqualified doctor is worse. Because he can offer you unproven medications and remedies that might make you end up feeling even sicker than ever, resulting in you feeling depressed or experiencing fibromyalgia. If you are finding it hard to get up in the morning and you are already lagging in the afternoon and your doctor can’t pinpoint that you have adrenal fatigue, it is fine if you want to self-diagnose yourself and help yourself against this disorder. If you do not have adrenal fatigue, your treatment from following natural ways of eating and de-stressing will, in any case, be beneficial to your health, no matter what you are suffering from.
If you are aware of the above symptoms as being part of what you are experiencing, adrenal fatigue, and you do have pain in the upper back and the neck, you do feel light headed and lethargic, your skin has become thin, consider it time to get to your doctor before the symptoms get really severe. The good news is that there is a silver lining.
Home remedies for treating Adrenal Fatigue
1. You will need balanced meals
You can experience physical stress if your body doesn’t get the right amount of nutrients in order to function properly. When you experience a deficiency of even just one or two of the essential ingredients, you will feel it when you wake up and go about your daily work; all that paining and straining is physical stress, let alone mental stress as well. The way you would counter it would be to eat a balanced diet. Studies show that the Paleo Diet is a beneficial way of getting a balanced diet. Look it up because if you can follow this way of eating, your adrenal glands will thank you and help you conquer adrenal fatigue. Keep your proteins up at breakfast time, making use of healthy real butter or better still, clarified butter, real free range eggs, meat that comes from grass-fed cattle, and let your fats be monounsaturated fats that you get from pure fats such olive oil and avocado for instance.
2. Vitamin B is vital
Studies show that any chronic stress is responsible for the reduction and depletion of vitamin B6 in our body. When you take vitamin B6 you are getting therapy for your stress, but don’t just concentrate on vitamin B6. If you take a full vitamin B complex supplement, it will do a great job of getting rid of stress in the workplace and elsewhere, and excellent for fighting adrenal fatigue.
3. Down with the coffee
When you drink coffee to try and keep “on top” what is bound to happen is that you will experience daytime weariness, sleep deprivation, and increased stress levels.
4. Sleep is always necessary
Probably one of the most important health benefits for any disease is good sleep. Lack of it for prolonged periods of time makes you defenseless against adrenal fatigue.
5. Avoid the bad oils
Partially-hydrogenated oils have trans-fats in them and these fats are very dangerous to your health, more dangerous even than saturated fats. Cut oils like soybean, corn, and canola oil and replace it with the good ones like olive oil, real organic butter or olive oil.
6. Maintain your blood glucose levels
Adrenal fatigue is when your glands are dysfunctioning and you get tired from too much workload. When the adrenal hormone levels are low, you experience low blood sugar levels, and when you sleep, they sink lower. You need to elevate the cortisol levels in your body.
Investigate these natural products as well:
- Indian Ginseng
- Asian or Chinese Ginseng
- Essential oils (wonderful)
- Rose Root
- Vitamin C
- Chia seeds
- Magnesium supplementation
- See a chiropractor
It is not fun to have adrenal fatigue and to think that stress is mostly responsible for it. But believe it; your lifestyle and your eating habits can influence greatly the healing of your adrenal fatigue. It is absolutely worth it!
Listen to this and apply it: “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another”. –William James (philosopher and psychologist).
Welcome to Health Intent, I’m a working mom of 3 beautiful kids and love spending time with my kids and my husband. I am truly passionate about staying healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. “My time” includes Zumba which is an addition which combines with my love for dancing. Family time is indulging in healthy competition with my kids at Just Dance, trips to the park and library which my kids absolutely love.