Adrenal fatigue syndrome is a disorder that results when the adrenal glands get exhausted, and fail to produce hormones, particularly cortisol. Cortisol when secreted in normal amounts helps the body cope with stress and infection. Adrenal glands regulate the body resources into the ‘fight or flight’ mode by secreting hormones. Almost 80% of adults are affected at least at some point in their lives. The syndrome sets in when due to constant physical or emotional stress, the adrenal glands stop producing the required amount of cortisol, due to fatigue. Since, the required amount of cortisol is not there, the body uses some other mechanism to relieve the stress. As a consequence the body experiences various symptoms of fatigue. However, the adrenal glands do not completely stop functioning. They secrete cortisol but only in little amounts. In case, the adrenal glands stop functioning, then it’s a disease called Addison’s disease, and too much production of cortisol leads to Cushing’s disease. Read on to know more about adrenal fatigue syndrome.
Signs And Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
Adrenal fatigue is characterized by several symptoms. Though these signs cannot definitely lead to adrenal fatigue they can indicate that adrenal fatigue may be the reason.
- Lethargy and loss of energy. The person has difficulty waking up in the morning. Fatigue during the morning and afternoon.
- Increase in weight around the waist. Due to adrenal fatigue, a person is also unable to lose the weight gained. He or she also has low blood pressure and blood sugar.
- A craving for fatty, sugary, and high protein food increases.
- A feeling of lightheadedness when rising from a laying position. He or she also feels dizziness, fainting or nausea.
- A high tendency to catch respiratory diseases like asthma, chronic cough, or bronchitis. The person with AF syndrome also experiences these respiratory disease symptoms for a longer duration because the lungs cannot cope with the lack of cortisol.
- Sudden pain occurs in the lower back, feet, and neck due to weakening muscles. Recovering from infections is also delayed.
- The brain is clouded. The person has difficulty in either concentrating or remembering anything.
- Difficulty in sleeping. As a result, stress cannot be relieved and the next day there is a lack of energy.
- Headache due to inadequate supply of blood to the head.
Causes Of Adrenal Fatigue
The main cause of adrenal fatigue is the inadequate production of cortisol by the adrenal glands.
- Adrenal glands are fatigued through increased production of cortisol as a result of constant physical and emotional stress.
- Illness, infection, or disease weaken the immune system and increase the stress. This requires a higher amount of cortisol, which exhausts the adrenal glands to produce.
- Synthetic drugs containing corticosteroids are also known to cause adrenal fatigue.
- A diet rich in sugar and carbohydrates.
Diagnosis Of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue can be diagnosed from the following procedures:
Blood Cortisol Test: Tests the blood cortisol level. The test can be done by taking blood samples in the morning and in the afternoon.
Cortisol AM And PM Test: This test is done to check the cortisol level as too much or too low production can cause adrenal fatigue. Through this test, the adrenal function can be measured.
Adrenal Function Test: This test measures the level of DHEA steroid. It is a comprehensive test to determine hormone imbalance.