In this complex and modern world, stress related conditions seem to be affecting more and more people. Stress has shown to be detrimental to many areas of health. One area that is particularly affected is the adrenal glands.
Located near the kidneys, adrenal glands produce hormones vital to normal body function. Remember discussing the body’s “fight or flight” response in science class? Well, it’s your adrenal glands responsible for the release of hormones when stressed. This process, well, puts stress on your glands. One of the main hormones is cortisol, which manages metabolism and is a direct response to stress.
It’s not bad to be stressed occasionally. But when you are stressed over a long period of time, your adrenal glands weaken causing adrenal fatigue. How can you tell if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue? Here are five signs:
1. Being way too tired all the time
Adrenal fatigue will cause extreme tiredness. This is because under stress, hormone levels are elevated, making it harder to sleep. Over time, cortisol levels are affected and the body falls into an almost permanent state of alertness. All of this can affect the ability for a person to fall asleep or get a good night’s sleep. It could be that a person thinks he is getting enough sleep, but wakes up each morning still tired and fatigued.
2. Craving junk food
Adrenal fatigue lowers blood sugar levels, setting off cravings for sugary foods. Increased stress levels also make us turn to comfort foods, foods that aren’t always the healthiest for us. Adrenal fatigue can also cause cravings for salty foods. This is because the adrenal glands affect how the kidneys regulate mineral fluctuations. The body releases more minerals in the urine when fatigued. This can increase the desire for salty snacks.
3. Energy before bed
Someone suffering from adrenal fatigue could find that they get a boost of energy in the evening, even after being tired all day. Cortisol reaches a peak late in the morning then reduces over the course of the entire day.
4. Trouble managing stress
The body’s normal response to stress is to release specific hormones. Specifically, these hormones are cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. Knowing how these affect the body helps to understand the relationship to stress.
- Cortisol gives the body extra energy to cope with the stress. It increases memory function and lowers sensitivity to pain. The body needs a rest period after cortisol has been released in a stress-related situation. A person is suffering from adrenal fatigue rarely gets to have the rest period.” Over time, less and less cortisol is produced.
- Adrenaline might just be the most well-known hormone in the human body. This gives us the initial burst of energy needed to respond to stress. Adrenal fatigue will affect the amount of this hormone, and therefore the response to stress is reduced.
- Norepinephrine helps the brain to focus on stress. Without this active hormone, the response to stress could be described as lethargic.
5. Increase in infections
Cortisol helps to regulate the immune system in the body and cortisol works as an anti-inflammatory. An abundance of cortisol over an extended period of time hinders the response of the immune system and may result in an uptick in infections. On the other hand, if the adrenal glands are so weakened that they produce too little cortisol, then the body overreacts to infections. This may cause certain autoimmune disorders.