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Adrenal fatigue is caused by acute or chronic stress, and is one of the most prevalent conditions of our time. It is brought on when the adrenal glands are no longer able to effectively adapt to stress. . Your adrenal glands live above your kidneys and make hormones. One of these hormones is cortisol, which helps your body deal with stress. According to the adrenal fatigue theory, if your life is too stressful, the adrenal glands may not pump out enough hormones, resulting in subtle or debilitating symptoms.
Most people have never even heard of adrenal glands, let alone understand the critical function they have in our health and daily living. They are responsible for the production of the most powerful hormones that affect our body and we can not live with out them. Yet in Western medicine, adrenal fatigue is rarely diagnosed.
Stress can come from various sources, emotional, financial, psychological, environmental and even from infectious diseases. Most of us are under some type of stress which, at times, can be severe.
How can we know if we are one of the many people suffering from adrenal fatigue? The most common symptom is low energy. Many of us feel normal, but in reality we have to push ourselves or use stimulants like caffeine or sugar to keep going. There are early symptoms that may indicate changes in the normal cortisol rhythms possibly reflecting pre-clinical adrenal problems.
Some doctors say these symptoms can be due to other health problems. Robert Vigersky, MD, a past president of the Endocrine Society, says the symptoms are very common in people in general.
Though people often blame their hormonal glands, such as the adrenals or thyroid, for their tiredness, Vigersky says in many cases fatigue is due to common problems such as:
• Poor sleep habits
• Poor diet
• Stress at work or home
All of these can affect your energy level without involving your adrenal glands. Fatigue is also a symptom of many diseases such as anemia, arthritis, diabetes, and heart failure, says Janet McGill, MD. She’s a hormone specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.
If unusual fatigue is bothering you, talk with your doctor. Your primary care doctor can check you for common conditions that cause fatigue.
If you do have a hormone-related problem, McGill says, you may want to see an endocrinologist — a doctor who focuses on hormones. This doctor can do a variety of tests to check your hormone levels. We always recommend being cautious with supplements. According to the Endocrine Society, some supplements sold for adrenal health may be harmful. Some of these contain extracts of human hormone glands. So read labels carefully. We all know of some lifestyle adjustments we can make that would change our life for the better.
The basic elements of a healthy lifestyle will help you feel more energized, McGill says. Try to:
• Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean meat. Avoid junk food.
• Get enough sleep.
• Exercise regularly
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