There is a commonly experienced health problem that is beginning to be recognized by more Doctors, called “Adrenal Fatigue”. It is also know by the names “Adrenal Exhaustion” and “Low Adrenal Reserve”.
This condition, which causes characteristic symptoms (syndrome), has become increasingly common over the past several decades. The main symptoms caused by Adrenal Fatigue, include; fatigue, low tolerance for stress, joint aches, low tolerance for exercise, irritability, anxiety, depression, low resistance to allergies and sicknesses, sugar & salt cravings, and over consumption of caffeine. The reason for the craving of these substances last mentioned, is due to the need to supply energy from other sources, due to the person’s adrenal glands having the diminished ability to do so.
This brings us to the understanding of what this syndrome actually is. It is a syndrome of the adrenals, that have become exhausted, due to prolonged, chronic stress that has been placed upon them. The adrenal glands, which are two small glands, one sitting on each of our two kidneys, are designed to give the human body, the ability to handle and spring back from stress. They do this by means of releasing hormones, that circulate throughout the body, giving it coping abilities and energies to deal with stressors. These stressors, are anything, mental or physical that put a demand of any kind on our bodies. This means stressors can be positive or negative but either type will place demands upon the adrenal glands.
The most important hormone released by the adrenals that help us deal with stress, is the one called “cortisol” or “cortical”. It, like the hormone adrenaline, is also a “fight or flight” hormone, the difference being that while adrenaline is the hormone to help us with immediate need for increased bodily functions to deal with tasks at hand needing performed, cortical, is the long-term fight or flight hormone, that gives us a steady ability to handle all of our everyday stressors.
With today’s fast paced society and the increased demands for stress-coping, it is very easy for people to overuse their adrenal reserves, giving them inadequate rest and time, to rebuild these hormone resources. Not getting enough sleep after overwork, plus adding other bodily stressors, such as bad diet and overuse of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants, including tobacco, the adrenals eventually begin to run down. Once a person reaches this state, they begin to experience the concerning symptoms that result, as listed above.
Strangely, for many years, this syndrome was unrecognized, due to Doctors only recognizing more serious adrenal conditions, the ones actually classified as diseases, rather than syndromes, that cause full-blown “adrenal insufficiency”. The main disease that is in this category, is called “Addison’s Disease” and is very severe and even life-threatening if treatment is not administered for it. These forms of full-blown adrenal insufficiencies, are not stress-caused syndromes but are actually due to diseased organs and are irreversible, unlike adrenal fatigue, which is most often reversible with treatment and care.
Conditions that can more severely influence Adrenal Fatigue, causing it to worsen or happen more frequently in people with it, include Thyroid Diseases, Anxiety Disorders (PTSD) and other diseases that either seriously affect the body or cause a lot of mental and emotional stress. It is also my opinion, that both CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and FMS (Fibromyalgia Syndrome), are conditions that are strongly related to Adrenal Fatigue. This has also been concluded by medical research, including that done by U.S. National Institutes of Health.
My question to those Doctors who still do not recognize Adrenal Fatigue, would be this; “If other organs of the body become fatigued, from relentless overuse of them, how in the world could the adrenals escape this same reaction, when bombarded with chronic, prolonged stress?”
People suffering Adrenal Fatigue, are tested many times for levels of cortical and are found to have very low-normal levels and even clinically low levels. They do however, pass the ACTH Stimulation test, the one most often used to detect severe adrenal diseases and this test rules out true adrenal insufficiency. To believe a patient needs no treatment because it is not full blown adrenal hypo-function, is in my opinion a disservice to these patients, who suffer very real symptoms from this Adrenal Fatigue syndrome.