Your adrenal glands are located at the top of your kidneys, and like other glands in your body make and give off hormones. One of the most important ones is cortisol, which is called the “stress hormone” as it’s levels rise when you are anxious or upset. If stress in your life is chronic, however, many doctors now theorize that the these glands simply cannot “keep up” and become depleted. The result is adrenal fatigue — and more people might have it than you would think. Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with this condition.
You Feel Tired All the Time
It’s not just your adrenal glands that are fatigued when you have this condition! If you do have it, it is likely that you feel tired all the time, regardless of how much sleep you get at night or how many naps you sneak in during the day. This complete lack of stamina prompts many people to use caffeine throughout the day just to keep going, but that can only make the problem worse.
You Find it Hard to Cope with Stress
Not surprisingly, with your adrenal system exhausted and low levels of cortisol, dealing with stress can be an enormous challenge. You may feel overwhelmed or find it hard to cope with the day-to-day complexities of life. You may even be prone to panic attacks or other extreme expressions of anxiety.
You Have Had Weight Changes and Strange Food Cravings
Some of the symptoms you might experience with adrenal fatigue are digestive. It can often bring about some loss of appetite and even nausea. It is also common to have unexplained weight loss — or sometimes even weight gain. Another common problem is abnormally strong cravings for foods that are very salty or very sweet.
You Might Have “Mental Fog”
“Mental fog” is not a medical term, but it is an excellent description of the problem that many people with adrenal fatigue have with staying focused and paying attention. You may find it hard to make decisions, solve basic problems and may have problems remembering things in the short term. Racing thoughts are another frequent complaint.
You Can Have Menstrual Issues
If you are a woman with adrenal fatigue, this can affect other hormones like progesterone and estrogen, leading to problems with your period. Women can get signs and symptoms of perimenopause or have severe pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Low libido and/or a decreased interest in sex is also a common complaint.
You Get Sick Frequently
Adrenal fatigue can affect your body’s immune system and its ability to fight off invading bacteria or viruses. As a result, you can frequent come down with colds or other respiratory infections. And when you do get an infection, it can take you a longer time than average to recover from the illness. This weakened immunity is one of the most frustrating aspects of adrenal fatigue.
You Don’t Sleep Well
Whether it difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, sleep disturbances are a very common part of adrenal fatigue. And even if you do catch enough zzzz’s, it is also common to wake up the next morning and feel completely exhausted.
You Have Problems with Your Skin and Hair
This condition can also bring about changes in your skin and hair. Sometimes, you can lose body hair and the hair on your head with be thin or wispy and usually very dry. You can also have discoloration of the skin (called hyperpigmentation) and dark circles under your eyes. Dry skin is also a common problem.
You Can Have Problems with Your Blood Pressure
While most people think of high blood pressure as a problem (which it is!), low blood pressure can be, too. People with adrenal fatigue tend to have blood pressure that is lower than normal and as a result, they can feel light-headed or dizzy, especially when they stand up from a sitting or lying position.
You Have Chronic, Unexplained Pain
One of the worst symptoms of adrenal fatigue is the possibility of chronic, unexplained pain, especially in the muscles and the joints. Many people with this condition have a general body ache much like the kind you get just before coming down with the flu.
It is important that you know that adrenal fatigue is a controversial and that it is not currently a recognized medical diagnosis (though that might be changing). However, if you think you might have this condition, making an appointment with your doctor is a good idea as a simple blood test can tell you if your adrenal levels are low. Also, the symptoms discussed above could be the result of something more serious, such as Addison’s disease, depression or another hormonal disorder like hypothyroidism, all of which require medical treatment. So don’t wait — make an appointment today to find out if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue.