Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome affects an estimated 80% of adults at some point in their lives. Yet, it is one of the most under-diagnosed illnesses in the U.S. Often, patients go from doctor to doctor trying to find out why they feel exhausted and sick. Too often they’re told that there is nothing wrong with them or, worse, they are made to feel like hypochondriacs.
What are Adrenal Glands
The adrenal gland (also known as suprarenal glands) sit atop the kidneys and are chiefly responsible for regulating the body’s stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroids and catecholamines, including cortisol and adrenaline. In other words, the task of your adrenal glands is to rush all your body’s resources into “fight or flight” mode by increasing production of adrenaline and other hormones. When healthy, your adrenals can instantly increase your heart rate and blood pressure, release your energy stores for immediate use, slow your digestion and other secondary functions, and sharpen your senses.
What is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome?
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome comes from a failure of the adrenal glands to efficiently produce hormones. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol, a hormone fundamental to optimal health. An excess of cortisol in the body can lead to severe problems, including Cushing’s syndrome. However, when released in normal levels by the adrenal gland, cortisol is essential to helping our bodies cope with stress and to fight infection– without cortisol the body cannot sustain life! Balance is crucial. Cortisol affects every tissue, organ, and gland in the body. When the adrenal glands are fatigued, they do not supply the body with enough cortisol. The body does what it can to get by, but it is not without consequences. As such, Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome generally precedes other chronic conditions.
You may have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
Lack of energy in the mornings, and also in the afternoon between 3 and 5 pm
Often feel tired between 9 and 10 pm, but resist going to bed
Lightheadedness (including dizziness and fainting) when rising from a sitting or laying-down position
Lowered blood pressure and blood sugar
Difficulty concentrating or remembering (brain fog)
Consistently feeling unwell or difficulty recovering from infections
Craving either salty or sugary foods to keep going
Unexplained hair loss
Alternating constipation and diarrhea
Decreased sex drive
Unexplained pain in the upper back or neck
Increased symptoms of PMS for women – periods are heavy and then stop (or almost stop) on the 4th day, only to start flow again on the 5th or 6th day
Tendency to gain weight and inability to lose it – especially around the waist
High frequency of getting the flu and other respiratory diseases – plus a tendency for them to last longer than usual
All of these symptoms might be caused by an inability of your body to produce enough cortisol – the root cause of adrenal fatigue syndrome.
The following tests may help you find out what is causing Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome:
Adrenal Function Test (AFT) – Measures levels of DHEA and cortisol during four periods of the day to determine if there is a hormone imbalance. This is a comprehensive evaluation of adrenal functioning recommended for those with excessive stress, allergies, chronic fatigue, and sleep problems—all indicators of immune dysfunction.
AM Cortisol – Too much or too little cortisol can signal a hormone imbalance. If there are noticeable levels of stress or fatigue in the morning, this test may indicate problems with cortisol levels.
AM/PM Cortisol – Too much or too little cortisol can signal a hormone imbalance. If there are noticeable levels of stress and fatigue in the mornings and again in the afternoon, this test may indicate problems with cortisol levels.1
DHEA-S – Measures levels of the DHEA hormone using saliva sent to a lab for analysis. DHEA, with testosterone, are key factors in muscle mass and energy—and are strongly linked to depression, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease.
Hormone Profile III + AFT – Measures levels of estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and all four cortisols—morning, noon, evening, and night. This is the most complete test of how hormone levels relate to symptoms of menopause, andropause, and adrenal function.
ACTH Challenge Test – The ACTH test is generally ordered when cortisol levels are low. It measures the levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)—a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that, in turn, tells the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol.
Cortisol test – Measures levels of cortisol in the blood. Cortisol helps keep blood sugar levels normal, control inflammation, boost the immune system, regulate metabolism and body temperature, and influence blood pressure. A doctor-ordered cortisol test may be done using blood samples taken in the morning and again in the afternoon. Or it can be done using urine collected over a 24-hour period. Often the results can be affected by stress, pregnancy, hypoglycemia, eating or drinking prior to the test, or other medications.
Neurotransmitter testing- Measures levels brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Deficiences involving the central nervous system ‘s neurotransmitters- epinephrine and norepinephrine appear to be involved in the development of fatigue symptoms.
If you are struggling with fatigue, please contact us….Take the first step towards a new revitalized you!
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James L. Wilson, ND, DC
Safe Uses of Cortisol by Dr. William McK. Jeffries, MD