Adrenal fatigue, exhaustion or insufficiency, whatever you want to call it, refers to lowered adrenal function or output. Adrenal glands produce vital hormones that help our body handle stress. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisone, aldosterone and DHEA, to name a few. When we sense a threat, our body automatically moves into a flight or fight response, causing adrenaline and cortisol to be secreted, which will elevate blood pressure and increase the release of glucose in the blood, preparing the body to run or fight or go into survival mode.
Prolonged stress has become much more common in society and we are not always paying attention to the effect it has on our health. When you take a closer look at your lifestyle, you may see that you are working increased hours, consuming more coffee or caffeinated drinks and being exposed to more technology than you even realize. In the early phase of stress, the body responds by elevating stress hormones. High cortisol levels will elevate the heart rate, increase blood sugar, raise blood pressure, reduce gastric motility and digestive juice production, and create a natural high, the opposite of depression. Eventually the adrenals can no longer keep up with the demand and it results in lower cortisol and glucocorticoid output.
Symptoms that can appear with adrenal fatigue:
• Fatigue that is not relieved by a good night’s sleep
• Poor circulation
• Low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia)
• Low blood pressure
• Joint aches and pains
• Pain, specifically in the lower back and knee
• Low gastric hydrochloric acid production
• Muscle weakness
• Need for excessive amounts of sleep
• Lowered resistance to infection
• Subnormal body temperature
• Sugar and salt cravings
• Dependency on caffeine or other stimulants to get through the day
Symptoms can easily be mistaken for a thyroid dysfunction. This really is not a mistake, considering how closely the two glands work together. This is where a good differential diagnosis is critical. Some other things to ask yourself would be; immune system status, the use of stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar (which can wreak havoc on the adrenal glands). Excessive exercise; exercising more than 45 to 60 minutes, especially when done vigorously, can lead to adrenal exhaustion down the road. Initially a high is felt due to a spike in cortisol as it does provide a natural high, but eventually the adrenal glands will not be able to maintain the output, exhausting the adrenals. With adrenal exhaustion there can be a loss in motivation and even depression.
Lifestyle changes or modification is truly the answer to correcting adrenal dysfunction. Supplements including adrenal gland extracts, key vitamins and minerals (such as zinc and magnesium) can be suggested to improve adrenal gland health. B vitamins may be used to help increase your energy and assist with important metabolic cofactors helping you get over the hump while making other lifestyle changes.
Our diet is one of the most important areas to make changes. The removal of the damaging stimulants (caffeine, energy drinks etc.) and increasing high quality nutritious foods and protein along with the reduction of refined carbohydrates is essential. If you are interested in learning more about nutritional supplementation, please visit our website at www.naturalspinesolutions.com or contact our office.
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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene and the phone number is 208-966-4425.