Adrenal Fatigue: What You Need to Know

Monday, 20 March 2017

 

Life has become increasingly fast-paced, and it’s easy to put your health on the back burner, but if you’re tired all the time and fall ill easily, maybe you should take a time-out to learn about the effects of stress and adrenal fatigue.

We asked Dr Mauritz from Health Renewal to explain what it is exactly, and how to spot the signs.

A is for adrenal glands

Adrenal Fatigue has a broad spectrum of non-specific, yet often reflecting symptoms. Noted by the name, fatigue is one of the main symptoms of ‘adrenal fatigue’, however, the condition encompasses many symptoms and effects on the body. The symptoms negatively affect your quality of life and are often just brushed off as ‘stress’.

Adrenal fatigue is caused by long-term stress. The definition of stress is much broader than simply a feeling of worry and there are many factors that can add stress to our lives without us being aware of the impact. We are all aware of our common stressors such as work, traffic, bills, relationships etc which adds to our load. There are however others such as long-term sleep deprivation (less than seven to eight hours per night), poor diet (junk food, microwave dinners, carbs and sugar), frequent alcohol use, prescription medication, lack of exercise, too much exercise (long term over-training can cause adrenal fatigue), exposure to toxins, Sleep Apnea, negative thought patterns, and more which adds significant stress to our bodies. The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys, and part of their function is to secrete hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which helps to regulate our stress response. Too much or too little of these hormones has significant detrimental health consequences. People with adrenal fatigue produce low levels of adrenal hormones and feel very tired all the time, even with sufficient sleep and rest. They also have weakened immune systems and may get sick frequently or have increased allergic reactions to almost anything. If left untreated, adrenal fatigue can progress into adrenal burn-out, which is far more serious. In adrenal burn-out, there is no hormone production in the adrenal glands which can have very serious implications.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

Chronic stress is associated with a lot of health problems, because of the constant high levels of Cortisol secreted. As a result, the body is constantly in a state of readiness for a possible “danger” that may strike. Over a prolonged time frame of high Cortisol levels due to the body being in a state of “fight or flight”, the body can experience damaging symptoms such as high blood pressure and insulin resistance. Elevated blood pressure along with deteriorating insulin sensitivity, are both contributing factors (as well as several other stress-related physiologic irregularities) to a compromised health state. Eventually, this can predispose individuals to the onslaught of age-related diseases.

Stress can cause many negative effects on the body, namely:

* Aching joints

* Chronic allergies

* Extreme tiredness

* Decrease in muscle mass

* Decrease in bone density

* Depression

* Feeling worn out and experiencing fearfulness

* Frequent influenza

* Food cravings, especially salty and sugary foods

* Irritability

* Inability to lose weight after extensive effort and obesity due to hormones involved in digestion, weight, metabolism and blood glucose control being affected by stress

* Lowered immunity

* Memory loss

* Poor concentration

* Sexual dysfunction

* Sleeping problems including insomnia and staying asleep

Is there help out there?

Conventional medicine often relies upon psychoactive drugs (such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety drugs) to mask a stressed patients’ symptoms, that may stabilise mood. This happens by acting upon neurotransmitter levels, but also by modulating the action of glucocorticoids receptors within the brain.

Fortunately, adrenal fatigue is treatable with the correct supplementation and some lifestyle modification.

What’s the Health Renewal approach?

A ‘multimodal approach’ is the best way to tackle the problem. This includes following a healthy eating plan, making sure you get plenty of exercise, and making use of innovative natural ingredients to support the body’s natural adaptive abilities. Adrenal fatigue is a very complex disorder, and therefore each patient’s unique clinical history and physical examination will determine what, and how the treatment plan will be built. The most important component is to identify the symptoms of adrenal fatigue and to seek help for this condition.

If you suspect that you may have adrenal fatigue make an appointment with your GP, or a Health Renewal doctor. Regular blood tests could prove helpful to monitor your condition and are certainly more proactive compared to self-diagnosis and taking tons of energy supplements to get by.

Do you have a question on skin or health for our experts? You can ask it here.

 

 

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