Adrenal Fatigue / HPA Axis Dysregulation
If many of these symptoms are familiar, then changes are your hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis - which governs stress response - is not functioning as well as it could.
While all these symptoms may occur in a number of different medical conditions, the presence of a large number of these symptoms strongly suggests that you are experiencing a degree of dysfunction in cortisol production, output or regulation.
The Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands are two small glands that are located on top of each kidney. The hormones secreted by the adrenals influence every major physiological process within the body including protein, fat, carbohydrate metabolism, blood sugar regulation, immune competence, inflammation control, hormone regulation and healthy cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function. The purpose of the adrenal glands is to enable your body to deal with stress from all sources (internal and external).
In today's fast-paced, deadline-driven world, our adrenal glands are working hard all the time. For some people, a lot harder than they were designed to work. In fact, some of us get addicted to adrenalin, as it provides energy to the body, and subconsciously create a sense of panic around daily activities to keep adrenalin levels up. However the adrenals can get exhausted, and this is when adrenal dysfunction starts to appear.
When adrenal function is compromised, alterations occur at the biochemical and cellular level within the body and one experiences changes in protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, impaired fluid and electrolyte balance, disordered function of many distant organs and deranged hormone production.
When the adrenal glands are functioning normally they secrete tiny, yet precise amounts of hormones that enable you to function normally and respond healthily to the numerous stressors that one is exposed to on a daily basis.
The adrenals are designed to respond rapidly to any changes that may occur within your body or in your external, physical environment (this includes any physical, biochemical, emotional, hormonal and psychological or energetic changes).
Burnt Out Adrenals
This finely tuned balance may be adversely affected by many factors, especially any excessive physical, emotional, environmental, hormonal biochemical or psychological stress. Prolonged stress in these areas can overwhelm the adrenal glands capacity to respond effectively and results in decreased output of the essential adrenal hormones.
Any decreased adrenal gland activity may result in many varied clinical signs and symptoms; the most common of these being persistent unexplained fatigue.The degree of severity of adrenal fatigue (also known as hypoadrenia) varies from person to person and fortunately the most severe form of hypoadrenia, Addisons Disease, is uncommon. People with milder forms of adrenal fatigue may only experience a persistent “run down” feeling and have some difficulty in managing or keeping up with life’s daily demands. In more severe cases, adrenal gland activity is so severely compromised that the person suffering with it may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours each day.
There are many factors contributing to adrenal gland dysfunction including prolonged illness or stress, financial stress, loss of a loved one, poor diet, caffeine, smoking, lack of relaxation, infections, poor sleep, marital stress, toxin exposure, psychological stress, poor lifestyle choices and others. Adrenal fatigue can be triggered by a single traumatic event such as the death of a loved one or a serious illness, or it may result from a number of smaller stresses that persist over a prolonged period of time.
Simply put, adrenal fatigue occurs when the amount of stress the body is exposed to overextends the capacity of the adrenals to respond to that stress.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue are variable but some of the common presenting symptoms include persistent unexplained fatigue, difficulty getting up in the morning, feeling unrefreshed after a good night’s sleep, fuzzy thinking, impaired memory, muscle or joint pain, tiring easily after minor exertion, mild depression, salt cravings, hypoglycaemia, a decreased capacity to handle stress, increasing irritability, a loss of enjoyment in usual activities, getting sick or experiencing more frequent infections (and taking longer to recover), low libido, feeling extremely tired between 2-4pm in the afternoon, etc.
So those experiencing adrenal fatigue have an impaired capacity to function in both their personal and work lives. They have significantly compromised quality of life and the complications arising directly from the diminished adrenal hormone production has many health consequences.
Diagnosing Adrenal Fatigue
In order to diagnose or exclude adrenal fatigue, it is essential to exclude all other significant causes of persistent fatigue; while also performing tests of adrenal function.
An Australian study shows 42% of patients presenting to their family doctor complain of fatigue. Because fatigue is such a common complaint and occurs in so many other conditions, an adrenal cause may be overlooked. Simple tests of adrenal function are available to clients and include a full hormone assessment, tests for adrenal, liver, renal and thyroid function, as well as testing for leaky gut, emotional and psychological status and any nutritional deficiencies.
Natural Treatment of Adrenal Fatigue
Treatment involves correcting the deficiencies that directly result from impaired adrenal function as well as addressing any hormone imbalances that may be present. Correcting any biochemical and hormonal abnormalities, individual tailored prescription of nutritional and herbal supplements along with diet and lifestyle changes can help you to return to full health. Importantly, energy levels are restored to that of a young, healthy individual.
Recovery can be rapid with clients reporting marked improvement in 2 weeks and an almost full recovery within 3 months.
It is also important to note, that sometimes these symptoms are not always a direct result of adrenal function. The entire HPA axis is also involved, of which the adrenals are just one part. So it is recommend that you see a practitioner who can take a thorough case history and organise relevant testing, to really understand the cause of what is going on.
Book your initial consultation now and feel better sooner.