Adrenal fatigue is a chronic condition that occurs when the adrenal glands stop functioning normally, resulting in decreased production of hormones and special chemicals called neurotransmitters that are critical for normal body function. The adrenal glands are small, pyramidal-shaped glands located on top of the kidneys, and the hormones and neurotransmitters they secrete play important roles in regulating stress, blood sugar, and blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and promoting normal energy levels throughout the course of the day. Hormones produced by the adrenal glands include cortisol, sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen), DHEA and aldosterone. The neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine are also produced by these glands. When the glands are “overworked,” they can become fatigued, making it more difficult for them to produce the correct amounts of these important chemicals.
Several factors can cause or contribute to adrenal fatigue. Some of the most common causes include:
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are often subtle, especially in the initial stages of the condition. Common symptoms include:
Sometimes, people with adrenal fatigue will feel somewhat better after eating. Not everyone with adrenal fatigue will have the same symptoms, so a careful discussion of all concerns is important for ensuring the condition is properly and promptly diagnosed.
Treatment begins with an in-depth evaluation including a cortisol rhythm test that uses samples of saliva to evaluate cortisol levels throughout the day. Once the level and nature of adrenal fatigue have been determined, a custom treatment plan will be developed that may include nutritional supplementation and support, IV therapy and injections, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and lifestyle and dietary changes.