Adrenal Fatigue


(2016 update: It’s not about “adrenal fatigue!” See this resource for the updated concept that you must understand.)

Adrenal syndrome, also referred to as adrenal exhaustion, is one of the most undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and mistreated health problems.

The degree of its severity ranges from mild dysfunction to total failure of the adrenal glands (known as Addison’s disease). Because the adrenal glands are responsible for so many critical functions, even a minor impairment in their function can have a negative impact on the entire body. A chronic disruption—one that persists over time—of normal adrenal function can undermine immunity and metabolism, leading to debilitating health conditions.

Some of the most common symptoms of adrenal stress are: Fatigue, depression, sweet cravings, decreased sex drive, insomnia, poor memory, anxiety, premenstrual syndrome, weakened immune response, recurrent infections, unexplained nervousness or irritability, inability to lose or gain weight, and joint or muscle pain.

As you experience these symptoms, profound physiological changes take place inside your body.

Is HPA fatigue the most underdiagnosed condition in health care?

The common stresses that can cause adrenal syndrome are numerous. When they become chronic in nature, adrenal syndrome can develop. The first sign is persistent fatigue, usually accompanied by associated mood disorders. As the adrenal glands become increasingly exhausted, they fail in their ability to cope with other stresses, further exacerbating the adrenal exhaustion. When experiencing this, many of us feel tired, either all the time or intermittently, no matter what we eat or how well we sleep. Depression is common. Consider adrenal exhaustion as the culprit of any prolonged or frequent, intermittent fatigue or depression.

HPA Gland Location

The adrenals are two walnut-sized glands located just above the kidneys. They are the workhorses of the endocrine (hormone) system. The endocrine system is a group of glands and tissues that release hormones directly into the blood or lymph systems, exerting specific influences on a large number of organs and tissues. Each gland is divided into two parts: the outer cortex and the inner medulla. The adrenals cortex produces the primary indicators of the Chronic Stress Response—cortisol and DHEA.

Why do most physicians fail to recognize this common disorder as the cause—and effect—of many health problems?

Besides sheer lack of awareness, they often fall short in this area because adrenal syndrome can manifest itself in diverse conditions, including neurasthenia (nervous breakdown), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, depression, trace mineral deficiencies, cerebral allergies, and even food allergies. Some patients are simply told that they’re “overly emotional” and prescribed mood altering drugs. It is staggering to imagine how many people could avoid years of needless suffering and costly—if not invasive—drugs and procedures, had they simply been assessed and treated for dysfunction of the most basic functional aspects of physical health!

Diagnosing and treating hormone imbalance and HPA function amounts to plugging the leak at the hole.

Often too, helping the adrenals let’s the patient feel good enough to tackle whatever their disease or condition might be. Tolerance, strength, attitude –these mental attributes and more are improved when the adrenal glands are performing optimally.

Laboratory testing is the only way to scientifically determine how well the adrenal glands are performing. Although this testing is inexpensive and convenient, few doctors are aware of its availability or application. As a result, patients with undiagnosed adrenal exhaustion commonly travel from one doctor to another, seeking to resolve their health problems with therapy directed at symptoms and disease states. The longer the delay in receiving help, the greater the stress on their already taxed adrenals. The degree of adrenal exhaustion and insufficiency can pass through stages of severity until it finally reaches a point where the adrenals can no longer produce hormones.
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