Adrenal fatigue is the name for a set of symptoms that results from the adrenal glands being worked to exhaustion. In many cases, adrenal fatigue is secondary to some other underlying health issue such as chronic inflammation.
The most common signs of adrenal fatigue include extreme fatigue, body aches, and food cravings for salty and fatty foods. Other symptoms include weight gain, reduced sex drive, brain fog, and needing more and more caffeine throughout the day just to get by. Patients with adrenal fatigue also report lack of enthusiasm, apathy, irritability, and anxiety.
When we encounter stress, we rely on our adrenals to release hormones that help us regulate that stress. When the adrenals are fatigued, they struggle to release the necessary amount of hormones and as a result, cortisol levels are lower than they should be. Maintaining a balanced cortisol level is an important part of our health.
Abnormal cortisol levels wreak havoc with energy levels. Normally, a person’s cortisol is regenerated overnight as the body recuperates through sleep. With good adrenal health, cortisol levels will be highest early in the morning and then decline gradually throughout the day. However, some people with adrenal fatigue may not restore their cortisol levels overnight. This results in very low cortisol levels and chronic fatigue throughout the day. Other people with adrenal fatigue will have spikes of cortisol in the late afternoon and early evening. These people may feel tired all day long, and then get a bounce in energy levels at night leading to insomnia.
Low cortisol levels can also cause weakness, fatigue, and low blood pressure. Cortisol also has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps regulate the immune system. High cortisol levels can suppress your immune system and leave you vulnerable to infection.
You can feel horrible and function poorly even with a minimal to moderate hormone deficiency that is undetected by routine blood tests. A functional medicine doctor will run a series of saliva and blood tests that will reveal whether you have inadequate levels of adrenal hormones or any other underlying issue that may be causing adrenal fatigue. A functional medicine doctor may prescribe hormone replacement to restore cortisol levels.
Taking certain supplements can also help improve adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue interferes with the ability of your gut to absorb nutrients from food and a functional medicine doctor may recommend supplements such as Vitamin B-12, magnesium, and Coenzyme-10 to help your gut better absorb nutrients from food.
Improving your diet and eating at the right time can also help reverse adrenal fatigue. Blood sugar levels play an important role in the maintenance of energy levels and you can keep your blood sugar steady by eating small, regular meals. Most people tend to skip breakfast, have a sandwich for lunch, and then a large dinner. However, doing so can lead to a spike in your blood sugar and stress on your digestive system that can make you even more exhausted. Focus on eating protein, low glycemic-index (GI) foods, and healthy fats.
Contact J. Gruber Health Solutions if you think you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. Chances are, the adrenal fatigue is actually a symptom of another underlying issue. As a functional medicine doctor, Dr. Gruber will run a series of tests to get at the root of what is causing the adrenal fatigue and will treat the actual cause with a combination of a healthy lifestyle, supplements, and hormones, if required. Call or text us today at 303-746-1964 to see how we can help!