The Lowdown on Adrenal Fatigue

Stressed?  Tired?  Craving sugar?  Can’t sleep?

All of these can be related to the constant stress we feel in our lives.  We know that stress can have a huge impact on our health and wellness.  And, since your adrenal glands produce stress hormones, adrenal fatigue (or “HPA Axis Dysregulation,”) is a popular theme lately.

Your adrenal glands look like walnuts that live on top of both of your kidneys. These important glands produce many hormones, including stress hormones.

But what happens when they become “overworked?”

You’ve heard of “adrenaline junkies,” right?

Adrenaline and cortisol are the stress hormones that give you the commonly known adrenaline rush — when you’re totally alert and living in the moment.  This feeling is known as your body’s “fight or flight” response.

Some people (perhaps you?) love that intense feeling.

The release of hormones in the fight or flight response is your body’s normal reaction to stress.  Sometimes stress can be positive, like when it helps you swerve your car in order to prevent a crash.

After a short time, the fight or flight response dissipates, your body goes back to normal and all is good.

But what would happen if you felt constant stress?  Such as all day, every day?  Like “chronic” stress?

It wouldn’t feel like an awesome (once-in-a-while) “rush” anymore, would it?

And what do you think happens to your poor adrenal glands when they’re constantly working?

They’d get fatigued, right?

Do I have adrenal fatigue?

When your adrenal glands start getting tired of secreting stress hormones day in and day out, you can start getting other symptoms.

Symptoms attributed to adrenal fatigue include tiredness, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, weight loss or gain, joint pain, sugar cravings, even frequent infections like colds and the flu can be signs that your adrenals are overworked.

First off, there aren’t medically accepted blood tests for adrenal fatigue.  In fact, it’s not recognized by most medical professionals until such time as your adrenals become so fatigued they almost stop working.  At that point, the official diagnoses of “Adrenal Insufficiency” or “Addison’s Disease” may apply.

However, if you do have symptoms, you should see your doctor to rule out other conditions.  He or she may even be open to discussing adrenal fatigue, or at the very least, wellness strategies that can help to reduce your stress (and symptoms).

What to do if I have these symptoms?

There are many actions you can take to reduce your stress and improve your health and energy levels.

Ideally, if you think stress is starting to burn you out, stress reduction is key. There are tons of ideas how you can reduce your stress.  My favorites are meditation, walking in nature, light exercise, more sleep or taking a lovely bath.

Of course, I also recommend reducing sugar and processed food intake and eating more fruits and vegetables.  So go ahead and do it.  Better nutrition can only help your body.  

Key points to remember

Your adrenal glands produce hormones in response to stress.  After long-term daily stress, they may get tired.

Adrenal fatigue is a controversial disease that doesn’t have a true diagnostic test nor specific telltale symptoms.

The most important thing you can do is to get tested to rule out other potential conditions.  You can also try a variety of stress reduction techniques. 

Do you have symptoms of adrenal fatigue?  Please comment below, and let us know what you’ve done about it or are planning on doing.  We’d love to hear from you.


Categories: Adrenal Fatigue, Blog, Cravings, Nutrition, Self-care, Sleep, and Stress.

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