Adrenal Fatigue and Adrenal Exhaustion
Adrenal Glands - How they Work?
You might not be aware of it, but you may already be experiencing adrenal fatigue symptoms. It’s time learn more about adrenal fatigue and what you can do to avoid it.
What are the adrenal glands?
There are two glands – called the ADRENAL glands. Located on top of your kidneys,
The adrenal glands are involved in a number
of functions in the body. They are involved in pulmonary function, blood
sugar metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism,
central nervous system processes, cardiovascular
production, gastrointestinal function, and liver
The adrenal glands play an important
role in helping the body respond appropriately
to changes caused by stress and the different
emotions involved in survival. If you were
being chased by a lion, you would have high
blood pressure, relaxed lungs to absorb oxygen
for your flight. Your mind would need to be super
alert your digestion and sex organs would turn
off so your muscles would receive most of the
How do they
The adrenal glands produce hormones in a
complex symphony that is orchestrated by two
structures in the brain called the hypothalamus
and the pituitary gland.
The adrenal glands via
these hormones control many functions from
anti-inflammatory (ridding the body of pain and
swelling) and immune system protection to
balancing fluid and salt levels and controlling
minerals (such as potassium), rapid heart rate,
regulating blood pressure, and sleep and
wake cycles. They even act as the backup
organs producing estrogen during and after menopause.
When there is stress,
these glands counter the stress by the production of several
hormones. The adrenals don't know
the difference between physical and mental
stress, they treat both with the same stress
Every type of stress
influences these glands - injury, infection,
divorce, finances, job-related stress, irritable
people, drugs and medications, surgery, pain,
illness, poison ivy, extreme cold or heat,
giving birth, menstrual cycle, staring at computer monitors, eating junk foods, starvation
diets, etc. etc. etc. The emotional stress of
actually is 1000X more than other forms of
When stress and poor nutrition lead to
altered hormone levels, imbalance in endocrine
function can lead to substantial fatigue.*
When you experience stress of any kind, the adrenals start pumping adrenaline,
cortisol and other adrenal hormones. These hormones get the blood flowing to the heart and muscles and at the same time pull the blood away from your digestion. They also stimulate the nervous system to speed up the heart rate. They prepare your body for stress.
This is the "fight or flight
mechanism". Your body is preparing
to fight a survival opponent or take flight in
the fastest way possible.
As you push your body over the years coping with stress, living on caffeine, nicotine, sugar, and alcohol with little sleep, the adrenals eventually become
exhausted. In this state, the adrenals don’t produce like they used
When the stress goes on
too long or the body is exposed to excess shock
and stress you
lose the ability to adapt to the stress, or the body
stays in this stress mode when no stress is present
(yes, some people call that anxiety as they
can't locate the reason they are
The adrenal glands will
also cause fat to accumulate in the belly as a
survival protection mechanism in attempts to
store future energy (fat) for the vital
What is adrenal fatigue?
A group of related symptoms that occur when the adrenal glands are not functioning properly, such as fatigue, body pain, low blood pressure, unexplained weight loss, hair loss, etc.
Adrenal fatigue or adrenal burnout can create all sorts of problems for you. The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys, and one of their functions is countering long-term stress with the production of cortisol and adrenaline. What I mean by countering is opposing or buffering any and all forms of stress. The adrenals react to emotional stress 1000% more severely than physical trauma.
Every type of stress influences these glands such as the following:
Things that affect and stress your Adrenal
Physical trauma - such as surgery, accidents, etc.
Pain. illness. giving birth
Lack of sleep
Drugs & Medications (prescription drugs)
Too much caffeine
Too much Suger
Excessive cold or heat
Eyes - staring at computer for hours at a time
Refined carbohydrates - eating junk food, proceessed foods, etc.
Emotional Stress - Divorce, Financial, Job Related, Loss of a Loved one.
Vitamin B & C
Do you experience too much stress?
Both physical stress and mental stress. If you do, this might be of interest to you.
The adrenals have many other functions, from anti-inflammatory actions (ridding the body of pain and swelling) and immune system protection to balancing fluid and salt levels and controlling minerals (like potassium), rapid heart rate, and sleep and wake cycles.
They even act as back-up organs for the ovaries during menopause. In other words, they make the same hormones as the ovary does. They also affect sleep and cause some major adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion.
If you have symptoms such as tiredness,
fearfulness, allergies, frequent influenza,
arthritis, anxiety, depression, reduced memory
and difficulties in concentrating, insomnia,
worn-out, inability to lose weight after
extensive efforts, you may be suffering from
adrenal fatigue (technically known as
One of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue can be excess fat in both the midsection (buffalo-like torso) and the face. This can occur from the overreaction of the adrenal gland that can contribute to weight gain. In the midsection, the fat forms primarily in and around the abdominal organs and sags downward over the belly.
This is called visceral fat and cannot be safely extracted with liposuction. Another term to describe this stomach is pendulous, meaning loose, hanging, and sagging.
Why Does Fat Go to My Belly?
The reason for this adrenal dysfunction or adrenal fatigue syndrome is very interesting. Since fat is a survival mechanism or what we called potential energy, the stress hormones trigger the accumulation or holding of this scarce energy and direct it to the most vital area of the body – the organs in your gut.
The body is just trying to survive and doesn’t care what you look like. Adrenal stress can severely affect all parts of your life.
This is different from the liver body shape, which is a potbelly or a protruding stomach like a water balloon, while with the ovary body shape, the person has a small bulge below the belly button.
Do you experience too much stress? Both physical stress and mental stress. If you do, this might be of interest to you.
Understanding what the
adrenal glands do, you can then understand why
the following symptoms can occur:
Tendency to gain weight and unable to lose it
This shows up with
fat around the middle and is sometimes referred to as a pendulous
abdomen. It is sagging and hanging. You
will also have thin legs and buttocks.
Cortisol is a hormone that is activated by
stress. When the body is stressed, the adrenals pump out
cortisol. When this goes on continuously, this
cortisol makes you gain weight around the organs
and the abdomen where the organs are
The adrenal hormone will
activate fat being stored. It will store fat
around the midsection - where the major organs
are - so that the internal organs have a supply
of energy - fat. The adrenals are working on
the survival of the organism. This type of fat is
called visceral fat or organ fat.
When adrenals are
overactive and store the belly fat it is
cumulative. Cortisol is the lowest at age 18 and
is its highest at 50. Thus, you will gain
weight as you age. The body tends to fill up
with stress and you build up stress and
Moodiness and irritability
Anxiety (worry), frequent feelings of stress;
Difficulty handling stress
Compulsive thinking and intolerance of
incompetent people, no patience with others,
Constant thinking about your
survival (worry or just computing what might
All the itises (arthritis, tendonitis, etc.) as
the anti-inflammatory is gone.
Inflammation or pain in the joints, back, and
Belly Fat: The
major organs are in the mid-section of the body
and thus the cortisol creates belly fat in an
attempt to protect them.
Blood sugar problems - Hypoglycemia is a hallmark symptom of Adrenal Fatigue. The body’s ability to regulate sugar balance depends on cortisol and insulin. When the adrenals are weak, cortisol output can become dysfunctional, and low blood sugar can become an issue.
Low energy - weakness, fatigue
Restless Leg Syndrome
Feel better suddenly after a meal
Difficulty getting out of bed, lack of energy which returns from 3-5 PM
Need for mid-afternoon naps
Need for caffeine or stimulants to get going
Salt cravings, fat cravings, and cravings for high protein foods such as
cheese and meat.
Reduced sex drive
The tendency to tremble under pressure
Out of breath when going upstairs
High or low blood pressure
A tendency to get the flu (or flu like symptoms)
Pain in the upper back and neck for no reason
Lightheadedness when rising from a lying down position
Unable to remember things
Sugar cravings late afternoon and evenings
Overactive immune system - allergies, chemical
symptoms of adrenal insufficiency:
You may also have:
High Cholesterol -
Cholesterol is needed to make adrenal
hormone which the body will be trying to do
when the adrenals are tired. The body will make
cholesterol if it doesn't have enough.
Poor wound healing
Low Vitamin D levels
Facial hair on women
Sparse hair on forearms and lower legs
Atrophy of breasts
Tightness in chest or chest pains
Food or inhalant allergies
Dry and thinning skin
Acne or poor skin
White or discolored patches on skin
Reddish purple stretch marks on the stomach,
thighs, buttocks, arms, and breasts.
Round or moon face
Puffy face and eyes
Dark cycles around eyes
Lax ligaments - weak ankles and knees
Weak or brittle bones (due to a loss of calcium
Buffalo hump (fat pad) at the upper back, lower
Low body temperature
Unexplained hair loss
Alternating constipation and diarrhea
Edema, especially in the ankles
Legs feel heavy especially when exercising
Impact of Adrenal Fatigue on Vision
If you have many of these signs and symptoms,
it is time you consider adrenal fatigue
as a possible cause once you have ruled out
other possible diseases. None of the signs or
symptoms by itself can definitively diagnose
adrenal fatigue However, it is definitely
something you'll want to consider. It
is very often misdiagnosed.
When the adrenals are
exhausted, they may not show up in conventional
medical tests as the symptoms you are
experiencing are early symptoms and it is not enough to be detected.
sub-clinical. The adrenals have to be 9/10s unresponsive
for it to show up in a blood test. In other
words, 80-90% of the adrenal glands need to be not
working well in order for a blood test to show that
there is a problem.
Adrenal Fatigue (Infographic) You might not be aware, but you may already be experiencing adrenal fatigue symptoms. It’s time to take a step back and learn more about adrenal fatigue and what you can do to avoid it.
Adrenal Fatigue and Your Sleep
Test for Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Eric Berg
Have you had a blood test and told you're adrenals are fine?
Why Your Blood Tests Keep Showing as Normal?
How to know?
This is not a diagnosis for adrenal diseases. You may have clues on potential symptoms from your adrenals, but go to your health care professional to confirm it.
Severe Symptoms that Go with Adrenal Function
Severe symptoms with adrenal functions are:
You can’t sleep: Maybe you exhausted at 9pm and then if you don’t go to between 9 and 10, you miss that cut off, you start waking up and you really can’t get back to sleep. Now, it takes 90 minutes because you missed the wave. Then you get up at 2am you are very wide awake. You will also feel like you need a nap.
Achy inflammation: You are running out of the ant-inflammatory hormones and your entire body is achy.
Brain fog: Hard to focus, go in the room and can’t remember why you went in there, you read a book but you can’t absorb it.
Low tolerance: people get on your nerves easily and you're edgy.
Breathing issues: when you go up the stairs and your legs feel heavy. At night you can’t get enough air. Your PH is too alkaline.
Sinus: can get congested and allergy problems.
The Ragland’s Test
Do you get dizzy when you stand up?
If you are lying down for a few minutes, then take your blood pressure and then you take it again after you stand up – this is a test to measure adrenal function called the Ragland’s Test.
Normal blood pressure is 120 over 80. When you stand up the systolic (the first number – “120”) should go up 6 to 10 points, normally. With adrenal fatigue, it will go down or it goes excessively too high.
The adrenal is a survival gland that helps you to cope with stress. Standing up is a little bit of gravity stress. Your body will then adapt and raise the blood pressure to adapt to that position changed.
If you didn’t adapt to that gravity stress, there wouldn’t be enough blood flow to the brain and you will pass out, thus the symptom of dizzy when you stand up too fast.
Another way you check your body, you can run up the stairs and if you run out of breath or have heavy legs then that is an adrenal issue.
What happens is the adrenal gland has an outside soft gland tissue and it also has an inside. The inside is all gland tissue; the outside is all nerve tissue which produces hormone-like messages called neuro transmitters.
Adrenaline is there to activate certain things like if you are being chased by the tiger; the artery has to open up to the heart and the lungs.
The adrenal tissue is part of the adrenal system of a stress response. The sympathetic nervous system or the flight or fight mode. Flight or fight is a survival mode that we all have in our bodies.
We are being stressed out by:
The News which likes to create stressful situations
Other People who cause you stress
Threaten Financial Disasters
Worrying which is equivalent to physical trauma.
With Adrenal fatigue you start over thinking and over analyzing everything. I know it’s hard to turn it off, but really you have to realize what is happening, you’re losing or you have lost your SPACE.
The best thing you can do is create space by going on a walk or a hike. Get outside and get your attention on something else.
Do this for an hour or longer because what this will do is, chill out the adrenals and allow it to heal better versus going to the gym behind the treadmill. You really have to balance out the entire day of activity.
Can You Do about Adrenal Fatigue?
Things to Do to Help Your Adrenal Function
and more, much more, follow the links or go to:
Other pages on Adrenals
More Things That Help to Support Your Adrenal Glands
How to Eat and help your Adrenals
Rejuvenating Your Adrenal Glands
Building Healthy Adrenal Glands
Need Nutritionist Help?
*Studies Is adrenal exhaustion synonym of syndrome burnout at workplace? Service of Occupational Health Tuzla in Tuzla Canton, Department of Occupational Pathology and Toxicology, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. email@example.com
Regulation of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenocortical Stress Response. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Adrenal-exhaustion syndrome in patients with liver disease. Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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