Tired? Grumpy? Depressed? Gaining weight? Stressed? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be battling adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a non-specific collection of symptoms that affects multiple body systems and is caused by chronic stress.
Adrenal glands are two pyramidal shaped glands, about the size of a walnut, that sit on top of each kidney. They release hormones that are involved in blood pressure regulation, electrolyte balance, blood sugar usage, and the stress response. A small amount of estrogen and testosterone is also made here. Stress puts these organs into overdrive but over time their function becomes diminished causing a whole cascade of negative effects.
When it comes to adrenal fatigue, the greatest impact is on cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is released during times of stress and increases blood sugar to be used as quick energy, which is necessary for the “fight or flight” response. Cortisol is also involved in the sleep cycle. Cortisol is typically at its highest level between 6 and 8 a.m. and at its lowest level between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. When cortisol levels are out of balance, as seen in adrenal fatigue, sleep cycles are greatly disturbed. Waking up in the middle of night is common and further adds to fatigue.
Luckily, adrenal fatigue is easy to detect, yet many doctors do not test for it. A salivary cortisol test is the single best way to detect adrenal fatigue. It requires four samples of saliva to be collected throughout the day. The advantage of this test is that it allows for a very accurate picture of how your adrenal glands are functioning throughout the day.
Treatment for adrenal fatigue is much more complex and requires an individualized approach. Diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management are the four pillars of health, and the treatment of adrenal fatigue often requires addressing one or all of these areas. Being tested for adrenal fatigue and sitting down with your doctor to develop a program specific to you is your best weapon for battling this condition. Say goodbye to adrenal fatigue and have your adrenals tested today.