WHAT IS ADRENAL FATIGUE?

In a nutshell, the adrenal glands, located above each kidney, are the stress control centers of the body.   They are responsible for directing over 50 chemical messengers called hormones that help us deal with emotional or physical stress.   Stress comes in many forms, such as loss of a loved one, car accident, over exercise, relationship difficulties, relocation, or illness.  The more stress you have, the harder the adrenals must work.  Overworked adrenal glands become burned out, or tired.  Your body wants rest to recuperate.   It tries to conserve energy.  Your organ systems start to slow down.   Fatigue and lethargy increases.   At first, you try coffee, supplements, and sugar fixes to keep you going and energized.   Eventually these fail, and you feel more fatigued than ever.   Does this sound familiar?

There are many causes of Adrenal Fatigue. Emotional stress and toxic relationships are the leading stressors, in addition to infection, hereditary factors, and others. Symptoms that arise are the result of the breakdown in our endocrine and autonomic nervous systems.   Both of these affect the entire body.  No organ system is spared. Physically, your body is breaking down, and that is why you feel terrible.   Let me be clear—it’s not all in your head. Failure to recognize signs and symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:  The first recovery mistake.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue include:

• Low energy / sluggishness
• Insomnia
• Anxiety
• Low blood pressure
• Muscle pain
• Multiple chemical sensitivity
• Food allergies
• Loss of libido
• Low body temperature
• Menstrual irregularities
• Insomnia
• PMS
• Heart palpitations
• Salt cravings
• Hypoglycemia

Your symptoms are your body’s only way of alerting you to the chaos within. Each symptom has its own underlying cause. For example, salt craving and low blood pressure can be attributable to impaired regulation of aldosterone, a key adrenal hormone. Heart palpitations can be due to the sympathetic nervous system overtone as it moves into overdrive. Muscle and joint pain are often due to the catabolic state of the body and low liver function, even though laboratory tests are normal. Insomnia may be due to metabolic imbalances. Irregular menses, low libido, and PMS are likely to be due to excessive estrogen. These symptoms are the body’s cry for you to take corrective action at the root level. Not recognizing these symptoms has grave consequences. The reason is simple—you cannot fix something when you do not know what is wrong. Sometimes, people think these symptoms are part of the normal aging process. Let us dispel this misconception now. Aging does not force you to lose your vitality and become bedridden.

WHAT ABOUT ADRENAL FATIGUE AND LOW THYROID FUNCTIONING?

It is common to be confused between Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue because they can have very similar symptoms.  One of the most common causes of fatigue is low thyroid function.  Thyroid medication will help you only if your thyroid itself is not working properly.  If your low thyroid function is due to Adrenal Fatigue, increasing thyroid medication to enhance energy and reduce fatigue only puts the adrenal glands on overdrive at a time when it needs rest. Over time, this will make you worse.  If you are on thyroid medication and are still lacking energy, or if you continue to require increasing medications to sustain the same energy level, be alert for Adrenal Fatigue as the root cause, not hypothyroidism.

Here is another tip you need to know. Do you feel cold all the time, especially in the toes and fingers?  Pay attention to your body temperature.  Body temperature is consistently low with Adrenal Fatigue, and thyroid medications will not be able to bring the temperature up, but normalizing adrenal function can.   Do not be misled into believing that once you are on thyroid medication, there is no hope of getting off. The majority of people on thyroid medications in fact have a strong adrenal component to their overall weakness.  Restoring adrenal health often leads to improved thyroid health and reduction in thyroid medication in these cases.  I see many who in fact are able to get off their thyroid medications with this approach. Alert your doctor about the possible adrenal component if you are concerned. Failure to recognize multi-organ involvement: a devastating error.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is the hormonal network that regulates the adrenal glands. The adrenals are intricately connected to many other organs in a variety of axes. One such intricate relationship ties in with the thyroid and the ovaries. Medically we refer to this axis as the ovarian adrenal and thyroid (OAT) axis in women, and the adrenal thyroid (AT) axis in men. Organs of these axes are intimately co-dependent on each other. They have to be in perfect balance in order for you to feel good. Unfortunately this balance is off when your adrenals are overworked.  Failure to recognize this imbalance often leads to incorrect advice and
treatment. In the end, you become worse instead of better.  For women in particular, OAT axis imbalance leads to a condition called estrogen dominance.  Symptoms can include:

Hot flashes
• Weight gain at the hips
• Water retention
• Moodiness
• PMS
• Endometriosis
• PCOS

The take home lesson is simple: Few organ systems function properly when your adrenals are not working. Other systems are also involved. They start to breakdown, resulting in:

• IBS
• Depression
• Metabolic syndrome
• POTS
• Diabetes
• Hypotension
• Lipid abnormality
• Auto-Immune diseases

If that is not enough, be forewarned that the worst is yet to come. As Adrenal Fatigue advances, assimilation of nutrients from the gut becomes compromised, resulting in food sensitivities and internal dysbiosis. Candida infections can become rampant. Your liver’s ability to get rid of unwanted breakdown products reduces as it reaches clearance capacity. Toxin build-up occurs internally. A negative chain reaction initiates. Excessive toxic metabolites can lead to:

• Brain fog
• Joint pain
• Skin rashes
• Allergies
• Muscle discomfort
• Multiple chemical sensitivities and many other symptoms

Do not be surprised or afraid if the vast majority of health care practitioners are not familiar with these associations and their implications. Multiple organs impact the body’s ability to recover, therefore, slowing it down. No organ system escapes the dysfunction when the adrenals are not in optimal condition. Failure to recognize multi-organ involvement is a major recovery mistake.

Unusual and paradoxical symptoms that defy conventional medical logic are common as Adrenal Fatigue advances.  I see this often in my nutritional practice. Do not be afraid. Each of these unusual reactions has a sound fundamental physiological basis. Ask your physician for a full explanation.  Take the time to understand and investigate its meaning.  In my nutritional practice, we make a point of explaining all symptoms clearly so you know how to deal with all of them positively and constructively.

Failure to recognize paradoxical and unusual reactions: The harder you try, the worse you get.A paradoxical reaction occurs medical treatment, usually a drug, has the opposite effect to that which normally is expected. An example of a paradoxical reaction from some sedatives prescribed for adults actually cause hyper-activeness. Experienced clinicians know this and are on high alert for these abnormalities.  Common paradoxical and unusual reactions include:

A sense of fatigue, malaise, or a state of anxiety instead of a sense of calm when taking steroids
• Sudden onset of anxiety attacks and impending doom at rest
• Sudden onset of heart palpitations despite normal cardiac function
• Sudden onset of dizziness and lightheadedness at rest
• Sudden onset of fluctuating blood pressure
• A sense of being “beaten up” that lasts for days after vigorous exercise.
• Inability to think clearly and difficulty recalling recent events
• Waking up in the middle of the night for no reason and the inability to go back to sleep.
• Constipation instead of loose bowels when taking high doses of vitamin C or magnesium
• A sense of feeling wired and anxious after taking certain vitamins, adrenal glandular, or herbs
• Feeling more toxic instead of feeling better when going through a detoxification program like juice fasting, acupuncture or massage.
• Sudden onset of fragile emotional states such as crying for no apparent reason
• Taking multiple trips to the Emergency Room because one feels impending doom even though nothing is wrong after repeated work-up.
• A sense of well-being after taking selected nutrients, only to be followed by a “crash.”

The more advanced the Adrenal Fatigue, the more paradoxical and unusual reactions tend to surface.  The body is caught in a vicious cycle of a cascading downward state of functions in its own violent attempt to rebalance itself. Eventually, this leads to severe incapacitation of daily functions, including:

• Severe fatigue
• Bed bound most of the time
• Fragile blood pressure
• Reactive hypoglycemia
• Unexplained heart palpitations
• Severe anxiety attack
• Profound dizziness
• Extreme brain fog
• Frequent infection
• Severe insomnia

Sufferers in this state are called the “living dead.”  They can hardly function, but look good from the outside.  The clinical picture becomes extremely convoluted and confusing to all but the most astute and experienced clinician.

Taken from DrLam.com

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