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3 Essential Facts About Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD; Jeremy Lam, MD

Video summarized in article below.

Adrenal Fatigue Fact 1: It's Real

So, what is our adrenal fatigue fact number one? Adrenal fatigue is real, despite your doctor not believing in you and your many symptoms. They might diagnose you with other types of syndromes like chronic fatigue or hypothyroidism. You might have normal lab values despite how you’re feeling. You feel like it’s the end of the world, but everything comes back normal. Don’t fret because we know that adrenal fatigue is a stress response and it’s real.

"Crashes" is a way that we describe the frequent fatigue that adrenal fatigue sufferers experience. This happens when the body’s ability to overcome perceived stress is overwhelmed. The body has already reached its maximum ability to deal with the stress. So, in order for the body to survive, the only possible way the body can deal with this is to slow down. That means the body downregulates your metabolism, downregulates your hormonal levels. So, you basically are forced in a bedridden mode or couchbound mode in order to conserve energy.

The fatigue can come on so suddenly, as if you are dropped off a cliff. It can come on for no apparent reason, but actually that’s not so, if you really listen to the whispers of the body.

Now, all sufferers should be well educated on how to manage these crashes. They can range from a very mild one like, “Oh, I have a sugar craving. I have to rest for three hours. I have to go home now and lay on the couch.” Or you can go home at the end of the day and feel slumped over for the rest of the night at home.

Dr. Lam has gone through it. That’s part of why we know it’s real.

People don’t really understand what it really means to crash, and we’re here to tell you that if you have a sudden drop in energy for no apparent reason, that is very classic of an adrenal crash. So don’t ignore what your body is trying to teach you through its whispers.

Adrenal Fatigue Fact 2: There Are Many, Varied Symptoms

So, our adrenal fact number two is that there are many different symptoms in adrenal fatigue. Every person might present differently. Generally speaking, the milder the form, the fewer the symptoms. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue may appear to be confusing or convoluted because many systems of the body become concurrently dysfunctional at the same time. However, there is a logical explanation for each symptom that surfaces. You just have to find the root cause.

Symptoms usually reflect the body’s only way of alerting you to the disarray within your body. For example, we see a lot of people with salt cravings and low blood pressure which can be attributed to the regulation of the hormone aldosterone. Aldosterone is a hormone that comes out of the adrenals. Aldosterone is really needed for salt balancing in your body. So when that is dysregulated, you can have these salt cravings and this low blood pressure.

Another example is heart palpitations due to sympathetic nervous system overtone.

The PMS that many women go through can be due to excessive estrogen, or what is known as estrogen-dominant symptoms.

There are so many symptoms. In fact, there are over 75 signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue, and they reflect the body’s desire to alert you. And to say the body wants to return you to a more stable state.

Adrenal Fatigue Fact 3: Every Body Is Unique

Adrenal fatigue fact number three, each person is biologically, constitutionally unique. You have DNA that only you have in the whole wide world. The body type that you have dictates to what degree stress comes to you and what you’re able to handle. For some people, they can thrive on stress. For some people, stress is a killer.

So, some people can experience tremendous emotional stress and feel great, but not everybody reacts like that. The body has an intrinsic, built-in mechanism that you are born with to deal with stress which is called the NeuroEndoMetabolic Stress Response. It is important to know this because this stress response when it is overwhelmed can be problematic.

So, when you feel that you are tired for no reason, is it because of your mind? No, it’s because your stress response has been overwhelmed. That is an important fact you must know.

Conclusion

These are the three most important facts to know about adrenal fatigue. The first is that adrenal fatigue is real. Number two--there are many different symptoms in adrenal fatigue. Number three is that each person’s biological constitution is unique. So, you need to have a very specialized approach to each person.

© Copyright 2020 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

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