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What is Adrenal Fatigue? Top 10 Adrenal Fatigue Facts Made Easy

Have you heard of adrenal fatigue? This controversial condition is getting a lot of attention in the media at the moment but still isn’t accepted by the medical establishment. Unfortunately, this leaves many sufferers without the help they need to recovery.

If you’re suffering with seemingly random symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, mood swings, and other issues, then it’s worth learning more about adrenal fatigue and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Let’s take a look at the top adrenal fatigue facts so you can work out how they relate to your experience.

Fact #1: Adrenal Fatigue is Real

Adrenal Fatigue is the non-Addison’s form of adrenal dysfunction, a condition where the body’s stress response cannot keep up with life’s chronic stressors. This condition leads to a syndrome or collection of symptoms that can seriously affect your quality of life.

Adrenal Fatigue is often called a sub-clinical syndrome, a condition that stays “below the surface” of clinical detection, applied to a collection of non-specific symptoms such as weakness and low energy. The term was first coined by Dr James Wilson, who struggled to help patients with adrenal fatigue and its associated problems very early in his practice. Over 24 years of work, he found that these patients needed more than just changes in their diet and exercise to recover and started to develop the first recovery protocol.

Today, his work has become the foundation for adrenal fatigue recovery and for a deeper understanding of the condition. Adrenal fatigue is related to the adrenal glands, which produce more than 50 essential hormones including cortisol, often called the stress hormone. When you’re under ongoing stress, as many people are in the modern world, the adrenal glands can become fatigued and start to struggle to keep up with their duties. This can cause a range of troubling, worsening, and debilitating symptoms and health issues.

Most forms of Adrenal Fatigue are mild and you can recover from them by reducing stress and resting. However, a small number of people fail to recover and their condition worsens to more advanced states. Advanced Adrenal Fatigue can be incapacitating and can worsen over time if the right measures aren’t taken.

Adrenal fatigue is often caused by a combination of physical, mental, and emotional stress (such as toxic relationships or work pressures). There are also many myths and misinformation about Adrenal Fatigue, which can make it difficult for you to get accurate information about it.

One piece of good news about this condition is that the body has a built-in healing mechanism and can recover on its own most of the time, if given the right natural tools.

However, it is important to note that the symptoms of adrenal fatigue can be caused by a whole range of disorders. That’s why you need to see your doctor first for testing that can eliminate more common and potentially dangerous conditions.

Fact #2: Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue are wide and varied

What is Adrenal Fatigue? Read our top 10 facts in an easy formatCommon symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Tiredness
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle pain
  • Multiple chemical sensitivities
  • Food allergies
  • Loss of libido
  • Low body temperature
  • Low energy
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • PMS
  • Sluggishness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Salt cravings
  • Hypoglycemia

These symptoms can appear in any combination and at varying intensities. Generally speaking, the milder your adrenal fatigue, the fewer the symptoms.

The symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue can be confusing and convoluted because many systems of the body become dysfunctional at the same time with this disorder. However, with deeper investigation, there is a logical explanation for each symptom that surfaces.

Symptoms reflect the body's only way of alerting you to the disarray within. Here are some examples of what certain symptoms indicate:

  • Salt craving and low blood pressure can be attributable to hormone aldosterone dysregulation.
  • Heart palpitations can be due to sympathetic nervous system overtone.
  • Muscle and joint pain are often due to the catabolic state of the body. Insomnia may be due to metabolic imbalances.
  • PMS is likely to be due to excessive estrogen.

These symptoms reflect the body's strategy of returning to a lower physiological state of function. Its the body's way of returning to simplicity in a complex world. Just because your symptoms are hard to explain does not mean that they are not real. Knowing what your symptoms are telling you is the key to understanding the underlying root cause of your health problems and is the first step to recovery.

It’s also important that you know more about how the Adrenal Fatigue related health conditions affect you and your condition. This is one of the most important keys to your recovery process.

Your Symptoms and Related Conditions

In addition to the symptoms, many recognized conditions are related to Adrenal Fatigue or may occur at the same time. These include:

  • IBS
  • Depression
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • PCOS
  • POTS
  • Diabetes
  • Hypotension
  • Estrogen Dominance
  • Obesity
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Auto-Immune Diseases

Fact #3: Our understanding of Adrenal Fatigue is in its infancy

Understanding what Adrenal Fatigue isAlthough medical understanding of adrenal fatigue is still in its infancy. Current understanding points to four stages of Adrenal Fatigue. Stage 1 is called Alarm Reaction while stage 2 is called Resistance Response. In these two stages, symptoms are quite mild and therefore often escape detection. In fact, most in Stage 1 are asymptomatic. In these two stages, rest, dietary and lifestyle changes can be of great help towards full recovery.

Stage 3 is called Adrenal Exhaustion and is the wake-up call for most people as the symptoms become severe and the condition becomes debilitating. There are four phases within Stage 3, each with different characteristics and hallmarks. They are:

Phase A

This phase is called Chronic Single System Dysfunction. In this phase, one or more internal system has weaken to such a point that symptoms become pathological and clinically evident.

Phase B

Phase B is called Multiple Endocrine Axis Imbalance. In this phase, multiple hormonal regulating organs are concurrently involved.

Phase C

This phase is called Disequilibrium. This is where the most functional decline occurs. Internal emergency repair systems of the body are activated in order to maintain homeostasis. Symptoms of this phase are serious and can include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Postural hypotension
  • Severe anxiety
  • Severe insomnia
  • Feeling both wired and tired
  • Hypothyroid despite medication
  • Frequent adrenal crashes followed by slow recovery

The risk of adrenal failure increases in this phase as the Adrenal Fatigue condition advances.

Phase D

This phase is called Near Failure. Most people in this phase are typically bed-ridden as the body is at the lowest physiological state in order to conserve energy and survive.

Knowing what adrenal fatigue is and which stage you’re in is important because recovery options differ for each stage and phase. What works for one stage may actually backfire if used blindly in another stage.

Fact #4: Many symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue are hormone related, especially for women

In particular, the Ovarian, Adrenal and Thyroid (OAT) hormonal axis is usually involved with adrenal fatigue. Imbalance of the OAT axis is a hallmark of Stage 3B Adrenal Fatigue. It can lead to symptoms such as:

  • PMS
  • Low body temperature
  • Endometriosis
  • PCOS
  • Cystic breast
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Fibroids suggestive of ovarian dysfunction and estrogen dominance
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Blunted response to thyroid medications suggestive of secondary hypothyroidism
  • Salt craving
  • Frequent infections
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and adrenaline rushes suggestive of sympathetic overtone common in late-stage Adrenal Exhaustion

When you experience symptoms like these, the common approach by conventional medicine is to suppress the symptoms and to increase energy flow with drugs. This may give temporary relief, but is often a failed strategy in the long run, especially if the body is sensitive. An alternative and more gentle approach is to consider focus on adrenal health first. As adrenal health is restored, many of these symptoms improve.

Fact #5: People react differently to stress

The body's biological constitution or body type is an important determinant when it comes to the expression of Adrenal Fatigue. Each person's biological constitution is unique. This is why some people can tolerate large amounts of stress without any problem while others collapse at the slightest stressor.

Knowing the type of biological constitution you are born with is therefore important because it is a good qualitative predictor of crash intensity and recovery potential.

Fact #6: Adrenal Fatigue crashes are real and unpleasant

Crashes will occur when your body's ability to overcome perceived stress is overwhelmed. This basically means that your body reaches its maximum level of ability to handle the complexities of life - physically or emotionally. An adrenal crash is the body's way to conserve energy by down-regulating its internal function. Basically, it means that everything in your body shuts down as much as possible, to use as little energy as possible in order to survive.

This may leave you bedridden if a crash is severe. And it can occur quite suddenly. That’s why it’s important that you know how to manage an adrenal crash and how to facilitate recovery. It’s also vitally important that you know more about the whole cycle, so you can avoid crashes, which weaken the adrenal glands.

Fact #7: Proper nutritional supplementation can help recovery

Proper, expertly applied nutritional supplementation can help with your recovery efforts. Vitamin C and Vitamin B5 are very important nutrients to hormone production in the adrenals. However, improper use of nutritionals and over-aggressive use of prescription medications, including hormones, are common adrenal recovery mistakes. Supplements are also not strictly regulated and it can be difficult to tell if your supplements contain real or active ingredients.

There is a precarious balance to this type of supplementation. For example, herbs and glandulars are commonly used to support Adrenal Fatigue and may be beneficial in early stages of the disorder. However, they often backfire as the condition worsens or if used without professional supervision long term.

Hormones and steroids are another troubling issue. If you decide to use them, then they must be monitored closely as their aggressive use is another danger for those who suffer from advanced Adrenal Exhaustion. They can also be dangerous if you take them but don’t really need them as they can cause your adrenal glands to actually shut down. This shut down can continue long after you stop taking these medications and can be life threatening.

Fortunately, for every dangerous supplement, there are a number of gentle alternative natural compounds that can be used. Knowing when to use what compound along with the proper delivery system is a key to the recovery process.

Fact #8: Good exercise and diet are key

A good diet and exercise plan are key to adrenal recovery, but need to be applied correctly. Exercise intensity, frequency, and focus should match the energy state of the body at all times. On the other hand, if you exercise too aggressively, you may trigger adrenal crashes or delay adrenal recovery by draining the body of energy needed for healing.

Diet is another important component of adrenal recovery as it provides your body with the proper carbohydrate, protein and fat ratios for your body type and metabolic state. It also ensures that other factors, such as your electrolyte balance, are closely monitored if you experience sodium and blood pressure imbalances.

Fact #9: Testing doesn’t always reveal adrenal fatigue

What is Adrenal Fatigue and the role of salvia testingBlood tests aren’t always helpful at revealing whether you have adrenal fatigue or not. To put it simply, a single snapshot of your hormonal function at one particular point in time seldom tells the whole story and in fact may be misleading.

Saliva tests can be more helpful, but not always. Saliva tests are often used to test cortisol levels, but there are serious issues with misinterpretations that often make these tests suspect. However, they can be helpful when administered serially so that they can be properly interpreted.

Some tests that your provider might order might not be good enough as most conventional doctors only test the blood for thyroid, anemia, and electrolytes if you complain about fatigue. They don’t tend to look at the cortisol or hormone levels to get a complete picture.

Fact #10: You need expert help to overcome adrenal fatigue

Recovery from adrenal fatigue demands the help of a professional with a thorough knowledge of internal medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry and cardiology. This is why so many people with adrenal fatigue struggle to find a medical professional who can diagnose their condition, let alone help manage it.

Designing a recovery program too can be extremely complex as this disorder demands a total mind-body recovery approach, incorporating a customized program of diet, lifestyle adjustments, and nutritional supplementation to match the body's needs during the entire recovery process.

Medication should be a last resort with this condition, but can be used carefully and under expert supervision.
If you’re starting this process, then be patient with yourself. Your recovery time will vary demanding on your body and the severity of your adrenal fatigue. However, if you get the expert help that you need, then you can expect a 3 to 12 month recovery period.

The Takeaway

If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, then it’s time to take control of your health. You’re the only one who really knows what’s going on with your body, so don’t listen to people who tell you otherwise and keep looking until you find the help you need.

If you’re ready to start on the path to adrenal fatigue recovery, then here’s what you need to do:

  1. Look for a medical practitioner who’s aware of adrenal fatigue and can guide you
  2. Learn as much about this condition as you can
  3. Be kind to yourself along the journey

For more information on adrenal fatigue recovery, contact our team on +1 (626) 571-1234 or click here.

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