Adrenal glands are responsible for producing several hormones daily that are used throughout the body. When your adrenal glands become fatigued it can trigger other health problems starting with a hormone imbalance. Since your adrenals are so important to overall body function it’s common for adrenal fatigue to be noticeable in several areas of your life without being sure exactly what’s going on internally.
What Hormones Do The Adrenal Glands Produce?
A main hormone produced by the adrenal glands is your ‘stress hormone’ cortisol. Other than regulating stress, cortisol is responsible for regulating electrolyte balance, managing fluid retention, body weight, helping you sleep, concentrate, providing you with a sex drive, and much more. Another important hormone produced by the adrenal glands is aldosterone. Aldosterone binds with the kidneys to cause the conservation of sodium, secretion of potassium, increases water retention, and increases blood pressure. The overall effect of aldosterone is to increase reabsorption of ions and water in the kidneys. It’s role as a human metabolite is extremely important by regulating electrolyte and water balance throughout the body.
How Do You Classify An Adrenal Disorder?
The most common adrenal disorder can occur even if you aren’t physically ill, but it seems to be more stress-related. Symptoms are commonly autoimmune reactions taking place so for some people it can be hard to diagnose. When the autoimmune system starts working on overdrive it begins attacking healthy tissue because it mistakenly suspects that the body is being attacked by a threat. This disorder is commonly called “adrenal fatigue” which can result in serious hormonal imbalances and hormone related symptoms. The second and less common adrenal disorder is caused by obvious illness of the adrenal glands including adrenal cancer, infection, or bleeding and is commonly referred to as “Addison’s Disease.”
Symptoms of Adrenal Disorders
It is common for adrenal symptoms to begin gradually and around a stressful time or even in your life. You may feel one symptom or several such as:
– Chronic fatigue that lasts more than a couple weeks
– Muscle weakness
– Changes in appetite, mainly a loss of appetite
– Weight loss
– Digestive issues
– Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
– Low blood pressure
– Dizziness and/or fainting
– Mood changes such as irritability and depression
– Craving salty foods
– Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
– Sweating/night sweats
– Irregular periods or a missed period
– Low libido
Other Causes of Adrenal Disorders:
– High levels of stress or a very stressful experience (like death in the family or major life change)
– Exposure to environmental toxins and pollution
– Lack of sleep
– Poor diet
– Lack of exercise
If you believe you are suffering from adrenal fatigue I recommend you schedule an appointment with a doctor, but there are also a few natural things you can do to try and reverse the symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue.
1. Adjust your diet- eliminate/limit caffeine, alcohol, sugar, processed food
2. Reduce stress- implement self care such as meditation, breathing techniques, spend time outdoors, exercise moderately, get professional help when needed
3. Make sleep a priority- get yourself on a sleeping schedule with 8-10 hours of sleep a night allowing your body to refuel
4. Begin taking supplements- speak to a physician first and see what is recommended, but you can start with fish oil, vitamin C, or a B vitamin.
It is so important to listen to your body, know your body, and be able to realize when something just isn’t right. Once you are aware of what is going on with your body it can take some time to reverse the effects of adrenal fatigue, but day one is always better than one day. Remember that one of the best things you can do for yourself and those around you is to take care of yourself.
Here’s to a happier, healthier you!