The adrenal glands are small glands found on top of each kidney and they are necessary for our everyday health because they produce a variety of hormones, including cortisol and sex hormones. The adrenal glands produce the hormones that regulate sugar and blood pressure, respond to stress, as well as burn protein and fat. If these small glands don’t produce enough of the necessary hormones, it can ultimately cause a variety of health issues. Adrenal fatigue is a health issue recognized by many healthcare professionals, however, there is no evidence to prove that the condition exists. Adrenal fatigue is characterized as a collection of non-specific symptoms. James Wilson, Ph.D., naturopath and alternative healthcare professional, coined the term in 1998 when he first described the condition as a group of associated symptoms that developed when the adrenal glands aren’t functioning accordingly. He also stated that the condition is generally associated with severe stress and fatigue that doesn’t get better with sleep which follows with other health issues, such as bronchitis, flu, or pneumonia. In the following article, we will discuss adrenal fatigue as well as its diagnosis and treatment.
Understanding Adrenal Fatigue
According to healthcare professionals, adrenal fatigue can commonly develop in people that have experienced mental, physical, or emotional stress for an extended period of time. However, as previously mentioned, there is currently no evidence to prove that the condition exists. Many doctors are also concerned that if a patient is told that they have this condition, it may ultimately cause them to miss another underlying source of their symptoms that probably also won’t be diagnosed and treated accordingly. However, there are a variety of other health issues that may affect the adrenal glands.
Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms
Adrenal fatigue develops when the adrenal glands are overworked due to chronic stress. Many healthcare professionals believe that excessive, long-term stress causes these small glands to become fatigued and unable to keep up with the demands to produce enough hormones. All of the symptoms below are relatively generic, however, they could signal an underlying health issue. Many of the symptoms could also be due to a busy life and a lack of sleep, as well as due to caffeine addiction, poor nutrition, or increased amounts of stress. The common symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue can include:
- craving sugar and salt
- abnormal weight loss
- trouble getting to sleep and waking up
- dependence on stimulants like caffeine
- nonspecific digestive problems
Adrenal Fatigue Diagnosis
Many healthcare professionals may take blood samples or utilize salivary cortisol tests to determine if a patient has adrenal fatigue as well as any other underlying health issue. However, because there is no evidence to prove that adrenal fatigue exists, there are currently no definitive ways to properly diagnose the condition. People who do believe in adrenal fatigue argue that modern diagnosis methods and/or techniques are not sensitive enough to determine the decreased function of the adrenal glands, however, they do describe that their bodies still feel the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
Many healthcare professionals start adrenal fatigue treatment by recommending patients to quit caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. They will also recommend patients to start eating healthy, exercise more, and sleep better. Following these diet and lifestyle modifications can make anyone feel better. Despite the lack of evidence, there is a wide variety of products, often in the form of vitamins and supplements, available to relieve symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate these treatments, they may have not been tested for safety.
If you are experiencing any symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue, it’s essential to visit a healthcare professional immediately in order to receive a proper diagnosis and follow-up with treatment. Moreover, if you take vitamins or supplements for adrenal fatigue without an underlying health issue, the adrenal glands can start to rely on or be suppressed by the treatment, ultimately causing another health issue known as adrenal insufficiency. A healthcare professional physician will be willing to help a patient determine the source of their symptoms and start the proper treatment for their health issues.
Adrenal Insufficiency or Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal insufficiency, commonly referred to as Addison’s disease, is a health issue that develops when the adrenal glands aren’t producing enough of the hormones we need for overall health. Adrenal fatigue is believed to be a mild type of adrenal insufficiency caused by severe stress over a long period of time. Adrenal insufficiency develops when the adrenal glands are damaged, causing them to not produce enough hormones, including cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol regulates our stress response while aldosterone regulates sodium and potassium. Symptoms associated with adrenal insufficiency can include:
- muscle weakness
- headaches or head pain
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- salt cravings
- excessive sweating
- loss of body hair
- irregular menstruation in women
- irritability and/or depression
- low blood pressure
- abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea
There are two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney in the human body. The outer region of the adrenal gland, known as the adrenal cortex, produces hormones, such as cortisol and aldosterone. The inner region, known as the adrenal medulla, produces adrenaline or epinephrine and norepinephrine. These necessary hormones are important for a variety of functions including: regulating sugar, salt, water, metabolism, and blood pressure, as well as regulating stress and inflammation, among other functions. Adrenal fatigue can commonly develop in people that have experienced severe mental, physical, or emotional stress for an extended period of time. However, as previously mentioned above, there is currently no evidence to prove that the condition exists. Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
The adrenal glands are small glands found on top of each kidney and they are necessary for our everyday health because they produce a variety of hormones, including cortisol and sex hormones. The adrenal glands produce the hormones that regulate sugar and blood pressure, respond to stress, as well as burn protein and fat. If these small glands don’t produce enough of the necessary hormones, it can ultimately cause a variety of health issues. Adrenal fatigue is a health issue recognized by many healthcare professions, however, there is no evidence to prove that the condition exists.
Adrenal fatigue is characterized as a collection of non-specific symptoms. James Wilson, Ph.D., naturopath and alternative healthcare professional, coined the term in 1998 when he first described the condition as a group of associated symptoms that developed when the adrenal glands aren’t functioning accordingly. He also stated that the condition is generally associated with severe stress and fatigue that doesn’t get better with sleep which follows with other health issues, such as bronchitis, flu, or pneumonia. In the article above, we discussed adrenal fatigue as well as its diagnosis and treatment.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez References:
- Newman, Tim. “Adrenal Fatigue: Myths, Symptoms, Disorders, and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 27 June 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245810.php#treatment.
- Frothingham, Scott. “Adrenal Fatigue Treatment.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 22 Aug. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/adrenal-fatigue-treatment.
- Felson, Sabrina. “Adrenal Fatigue: Is It Real? Symptoms, Causes, Treatments.” WebMD, WebMD, 8 Feb. 2019, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/adrenal-fatigue-is-it-real#1.
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Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain
Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.
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