So, as I write this second installment on Adrenal Fatigue, I notice that my appetite has returned to normal and weight loss has slowed. My fatigue is less and I have started to work out again. I am still fatigued, and need to go easy. These things take time and rest. But I am starting to feel like I belong to the human race again. I am slowly but definitely recuperating.
The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit over the kidneys. They secrete over fifty hormones including epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), estrogen and testosterone. In fact, the adrenal glands are the only source of DHEA and testosterone in females and after menopause become the major sources of estrogen and progesterone. In males, the adrenal glands are the only source of DHEA, estrogen and progesterone and after ANDROPAUSE, the only major source of testosterone. The adrenal glands are very necessary for life. Consider the fact that they control carbohydrate, protein and fat conversion to blood glucose thereby regulating energy production in the body. The adrenal glands are important in fluid and electrolyte balance in the cells of the body and are the major source of sex hormone production in the body, especially post menopausal and post andropause. Optimal adrenal health is one of the major keys to the enjoyment of life. The fact of the matter is that we cannot live without the adrenals and we can’t live very well when the adrenals are depleted.
So what exactly is adrenal fatigue? We can use a definition that states that adrenal fatigue is the sub optimal functioning of the adrenal glands at rest, under stress and in response to constant, intermittent or sporadic demands. If the adrenals are totally depleted, it is called ADDISON’S DISEASE and can be a medical emergency. However, most people who have depleted adrenals are not medical emergencies. They drag themselves through life not knowing what is wrong with them. They have ADRENAL FATIGUE. Dr. James Wilson has been quoted as saying that the adrenal glands are the glands of stress, but are the first glands to fail under stressful conditions. What we are talking about is the ultimate reaction of the body to chronic, unrelenting stress.
The onset of adrenal fatigue can occur after a long period of stress or after one severely stressful event such as mental stress, burn, toxemia, auto accident etc. It can be precipitated after someone has driven themselves to exhaustion, or have overworked themselves with little time for relaxation over extended periods. Other events that can precipitate the onset of adrenal fatigue include a nervous breakdown, previous heavy binge drinking or drug intake and/or intense participation in competitive sports.
Individuals with adrenal fatigue show loss of productivity in work and at home, increased marital discord, burnout in amateur and professional sports, missed promotions and opportunities at work and decreased energy reserves. Associated conditions include chronic illness, chronic cough, anorexia and lowered resistance to infection. Associated diseases can include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Cancer, AIDS and asthma.
Daily energy patterns in patients with adrenal fatigue include morning fatigue with an inability to rise before 10AM. The patient usually feels much better and much more awake after the noon meal. There is an afternoon low of 2-4PM and the individual usually feels best after 6PM. The patient is often tired between 9-10PM but often resists going to bed and usually gets a second burst of energy at 11PM lasting until 1-2AM. The best most refreshing sleep often comes between 7-9AM. These patients crave salt and foods high in salt, often become hypoglycemic under stress, have mild depression, lethargy and lack of energy. Everything seems to take more effort and there is a decreased ability to handle stress. Aggravating factors include constant life or work stress, poor dietary habits, unhappy relationships at work and at home, lack of exercise and no control over how one spends one’s time.
The final blog in the series will discuss treatment options. Adrenal fatigue can be overcome and one can once again enjoy life daily and live life fully! Again, thanks for listening!