Frequently Asked Questions About Adrenal Fatigue
Q: What is adrenal fatigue?
A: Adrenal fatigue is a condition in which your adrenal glands perform at sub optimal levels. This leads to its hallmark symptom: extreme tiredness and fatigue that is not relieved by a good nights rest, vacations, or time off. Adrenal fatigue ranges from mild to severe with most people somewhere in the middle of the bell curve. The most severe form of adrenal fatigue is known as Addison’s disease which requires medical attention immediately as it can be caused by structural damage to the adrenal glands which can be life threatening.
However, the more common type of adrenal fatigue (and sadly the most often undiagnosed form) is not quite as severe as Addison’s disease but can still have debilitating symptoms such as the following:
- Extreme tiredness and fatigue in the mornings. It may be 10 am before you are fully awake.
- Afternoon “low” (feelings of sleepiness or clouded thinking) from 2 to 4 p.m.
- A burst of energy at 6 p.m. when you finally feel better from your afternoon lull
- Sleepiness around 9p.m. to 10 p.m. However, you resist going to sleep
- A “second wind” at 11 p.m. that lasts until about 1 a.m., when you finally do go to sleep
- Cravings for foods high in salt and fats
- Chronic low blood pressure
- Sensitivity to cold and feeling chilled
- Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
- Mild depression
- Mood swings
- Mental fog
- Memory problems
- Lack of energy and feeling rundown
- A decreased ability to handle stress
- A decreased ability to recover from illness
- Muscular weakness
- Increased food allergies
- Lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or lying down position
- Decreased sex drive
- Frequent sighing
- Inability to handle foods high in potassium or carbohydrates unless they’re combined with fats and protein
- Cravings for sugar
Not only are your energy levels affected. Your bodily organs and functions will also reflect diminished efficacy. Your heart and cardiovascular system will be compromised; so will your immune system in fighting off infections; and other systemic functions, as well. In all, adrenal fatigue is a systemic blow to your body.
Q: How do the adrenals get fatigued?
A: Adrenal fatigue occurs for a variety of different reasons. You could have been born with “weak” adrenals and might be more susceptible to wearing them out. However, the more common cause for worn out adrenal glands is extreme stress. Especially prolonged heavy stress.
For instance, if you experienced some health problems and then undergo a surgery, this puts a large amount of stress on your body and can contribute to adrenal fatigue. Also You might have a stressful work environment or family situation which after years of being subjected to it, your adrenals finally stop working as well as they could.
Q: How does stress wear out the adrenal glands?
A: Your adrenal glands regulate a myriad of bodily functions through the production of hormones. Cortisol is the hormone most associated with the adrenal glands, but it is important to realize the adrenals produce many hormones generally classified into 3 categories: glucocorticoids (i.e. cortisol), mineralocorticoids (i.e. aldosterone), and androgens (i.e. sex hormones). One of their most important roles is to help you cope with many different types of stress. These hormones produced by the adrenals control energy production, cellular energy management, heart rate, immune system, and muscle tension in response to stress.
Your adrenal glands play a vital role in the bodies ‘fight or flight’ response. The aforementioned hormones produced by the adrenals give your body the extra burst it needs to get out of dangerous situations. Remember that the fight or flight response is only a temporary situation and your body has natural mechanisms to bring things back down to normal. However, overtime, the types of stress we face has evolved from a short term to long term. For instance, years ago when we faced dangerous situations such as physical danger from predators or the environment, our ‘fight or flight’ mechanism would kick in giving us the surge of energy and awareness to escape the situation. This was essential for survival in a hostile environment.
However, over thousands of years things have changed. The types of threats that we face are much less physical, and much longer in duration than we are accustomed to. Things like pressure from work, family obligations, financial challenges, etc keep our adrenal glands on overdrive much too long. This creates a challenge in that we drive our adrenals into near exhaustion. This is when we begin to feel the symptoms of adrenal fatigue because stress has gotten the better of us.
Q: What are some of the other names for adrenal fatigue?
A: Hypoadrenia refers to underperforming adrenal glands. So the names Non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, sub-clinical hypoadrenia are pretty common names for adrenal fatigue. It is also less commonly called neurasthenia, adrenal neurasthenia, and adrenal apathy.
Q: How common is adrenal fatigue?
A: According to Dr James Wilson an adrenal fatigue expert, the percentage of the population with adrenal fatigue is about 66%. This is due to the extremely stressful lives we live as part of 21st century living.
Q: Who is susceptible to adrenal fatigue?
A: Anyone can experience adrenal fatigue at one point or another even the healthiest of people. But certain events can increase your probability of getting the syndrome. The following situations are common in adrenal fatigue suffers:
- Mothers with multiple children
- Single parenthood
- Difficult marital situations
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Shift workers
- Financial problems
- Stressful work environment
- Head trauma
- Death of a loved one
- Recurring or major infections
- Thyroid issues
- Lack of sleep
- Poor food choices
- Too much caffeine
- Too much sugar
Q: How do I recover from adrenal fatigue?
A: That is precisely the reason I wrote The Adrenal Fatigue Formula: How to Jump-start Your Adrenal Glands and Get Your Energy Back. This program is for those that are sick of suffering the debilitating symptoms of adrenal fatigue and are ready for a step by step guide to rebuilding their adrenals.