As this guest post explains, adrenal fatigue is on the rise yet no one can really tell you what it is.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
The debate over whether or not adrenal fatigue is a real condition seems like a mere legality to those who suffer from it.
Your adrenal glands are little triangle-shaped organs at the top of your kidneys that are known to produce and regulate a number of hormones in response to the body’s stress levels, the most important of which is cortisol.
The mix of symptoms related to adrenal fatigue can often be misdiagnosed, although some health care professionals would argue that adrenal fatigue is a misdiagnosis of either too much or too little cortisol.
Interestingly, the adrenal glands also produce a hormone called Aldosterone, which is responsible for sending signals to your kidneys to retain salt for your body.
When your body doesn’t produce enough Aldosterone your kidneys can’t absorb potassium out of the bloodstream (super high levels of potassium in the blood can be fatal) this results in a serious salt craving, one of the most common symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Maybe. Maybe not.
More common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Extreme tiredness even after you’ve slept adequately.
- Low-stress tolerance.
- Overuse of stimulants like caffeine.
- Salt cravings.
But there are some symptoms that contraindicate the ones we just discussed, which no doubt, flames the stubborn refusal of medical professionals to accept the seriousness of this syndrome, some of these are:
Did we not just say heavy tiredness and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
Yes. It is.
But Cortisol can have a wacky effect on your sleep patterns.
Adrenal Fatigue is said to be caused by chronic stress, that means the level of cortisol in your body will likely be elevated for extended periods of time.
This can wreak havoc on your body’s sleep-wake cycles and that can often cause insomnia.
If you ask me, insomnia when you’re overly tired in the first place, is just torture.
It’s cortisol again, and the extreme highs and lows of your cortisol levels when you experience adrenaline fatigue take no prisoners.
When your cortisone levels are too high it may cause depression, too low and it causes brain fog, lack of memory retention, anxiety and depression again.
Your brain and your body are ruled by hormones so it should come as no surprise that when your quarterback hormone has gone nuts, that you feel a little discombobulated.
That being said, depression is a serious mental illness and regardless of the cause, requires immediate action towards relieving it.
Low Sex Drive
Low libido is something that can be caused by even the slightest hormonal disturbances.
Even though in this case hormones may or may not be directly responsible for a lower than normal sex drive, it could contribute to the perfect storm of conditions that could be causing it.
Cortisol triggers your flight or fight reflex, when cortisol is high it shuts down non-essential bodily functions, like sex drive, in order to deal with a perceived threat.
Similarly, if your body is running on fumes from say, insomnia, or a lack of food it will trigger the same response.
Brain fog can also be a culprit when it comes to low sex drive, as it can numb you to sensations and emotions, which can also impact your sex drive.
You may opt to get back on track by enhancing your sexual health and improving your libido. Surprisingly, not many people know that it can be used in multiple circumstances to prevent any further libido disruption and can optimise performance in the bedroom.
The hormonal tornado that happens when you have adrenal fatigue can have a serious effect on your midline.
Cortisol is responsible for maintaining adequate levels of glucose in your body by regulating insulin, but what happens when cortisol is always high or always low?
It may create insulin resistance, which is when your body’s receptors become less sensitive to insulin and essentially become “blind to it”
Insulin’s role in the body is to signal the body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, however, when your body becomes resistant to it, it leaves all this glucose in your bloodstream that is stored as fat.
Telltale signs of an insulin-related weight gain are gaining a ton of tummy fat and bloating from carbs.
Of course, gaining weight is about more than what you look like.
If you become overweight that comes with its own set of health problems.
What You Can Do
Fortunately (and unfortunately) a doctor will likely not diagnose you with adrenal fatigue, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the proof you need, nor does it mean that you can’t be treated:
Have Your Adrenal Function Tested
Easier said than done, of course, since testing for adrenal fatigue requires expert knowledge with multiple and often duplicate testing of various hormones, the most common test that doctors do to determine whether you have an adrenal insufficiency is testing your cortisol levels.
There are adjustments that you will simply have to make in order to recover from and prevent adrenal fatigue in the future.
First, you will have to figure out what food sensitivities you have. It’s an important first step towards your healing process.
Also eliminating caffeine, sugar, gluten, processed foods and unhealthy fats from your diet may help, while focusing on a diet rich in nutrients, fermented foods, protein, and healthy fats including avocado, flaxseed and oily fish.
Eating at the right times every day is equally as important as the type of food you eat.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, there is absolutely nothing wrong with craving a break from the stresses of everyday life. If you feel the need, take the time to get away – either on your own or with your family. After all, everyone needs a vacation now and then!
Here’s where your doctor’s experience really counts because taking just a single swab of your saliva and testing that is nowhere near efficient enough.
In fact, taking a series of samples throughout an entire day is still not going to cut it.
The proper way to test for cortisol would be to take several individual samples across several different days.
The results should then be thoroughly interpreted by your doctor.