Adrenal Fatigue

Comments: 0 | August 1st, 2011

Cortisol is essential to life. Laboratory animals that have had their adrenal glands removed can no longer produce cortisol, and they are very fragile creatures. They can function reasonably well if their environment is kept perfectly stable. However, even the slightest variation in their environment—a drop in room temperature, for example—can spell death for these creatures. With the loss of their adrenal glands, they have lost their ability to adapt.
Human beings are not laboratory animals, and the environments we live in are seldom stable. We are exposed to a constant onslaught of stressors—noise, pollution, traffic, inclement weather, injuries, illnesses, emotional conflicts, deadlines, and on and on. We may heap stress on top of stress by smoking, eating refined carbohydrates, drinking coffee, or going without adequate sleep. Chronic, unrelenting stress, whether physical or psychological or both, eventually leads to adrenal fatigue. The adrenals simply cannot produce enough cortisol to meet the demands. The result? We feel “stressed out”—because we are.
As you might expect, some of the effects of suboptimal cortisol levels are the opposite of those seen with high cortisol levels. Instead of hyperglycemia, or elevated blood sugar, individuals with mild adrenal fatigue often have hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Instead of high blood pressure, they may have low blood pressure. Instead of feeling mentally stimulated, they may have trouble concentrating. But the number one symptom of adrenal insufficiency is fatigue. Whereas individuals with optimal cortisol levels have energy to burn, those with low cortisol levels drag themselves through the day, feeling exhausted.
If you have adrenal fatigue, you may function reasonably well when your life is stable but fall apart if stress is added. You are likely to be more vulnerable to infections and to heal more slowly than those with healthy adrenal glands. You may suffer from headaches, heart palpitations, or joint and muscle pain. You may develop allergies or chemical sensitivities or experience a worsening of existing allergies or asthma.
Symptoms and Signs of Adrenal Fatigue:
Chronic fatigue
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Low blood pressure (hypotension)
Dizziness or lightheadedness upon standing
Muscle and/or joint pain
Recurrent infections
Allergies and/or asthma
Irregular menstrual cycles
Low libido
Hair loss
Dry skin
Anxiety or panic attacks
Heart palpitations
Difficulty “bouncing back” from stress
Cold and heat intolerance
If you think that many of these symptoms sound similar to those of hypothyroidism, you’re right. Although they are clinically distinct conditions, adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism are both metabolic problems that result in a slowdown of the body’s functions and a decline in energy. Some people have only one of these conditions, but many people have both. If your hypothyroidism is complicated by adrenal insufficiency, then it’s important to address this underlying problem at the same time.

Written By: STEVEN F. HOTZE, M.D.

Steven F. Hotze, M.D., is the founder and CEO of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, Hotze Vitamins and Physicians Preference Pharmacy International, LLC.

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