Adrenal dysfunction affects approximately 80 percent of the American population, and most sufferers are unaware of the problem. The most common symptoms of adrenal dysfunction are fatigue, weight gain, depression, skin problems, autoimmune disorders and insomnia.
Adrenal Glands and Their Function
The adrenal glands are a part of the endocrine system and are responsible for the production of three classes of steroid hormones, namely androgens, glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. These glands are triangular in shape and are located just above each kidney. Their primary function is to regulate the ability of the body to handle different forms of stress, such as physical, mental and psychological. The hormones produced by these glands are responsible for controlling the use of fat by the body. They also assist the inflammation process, boost the immune system, control blood pressure and volume, and control sodium excretion. The glands produce adrenaline, the hormone that plays an important role in the fight or flight mechanisms of the body.
Malfunction of Adrenal Glands
Malfunction of adrenal glands results in insufficient production of one of the three types of hormones associated with them. It’s difficult to diagnose this malfunction in the early stages of adrenal insufficiency. However, once it’s diagnosed, treatment is effective.
Causes of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue insufficiency occurs primarily due to a stressful lifestyle and obesity caused by an unhealthy diet. If the adrenal glands are unable to cope with excess mental or physical stress suffered by you, the result is adrenal fatigue.
Internal Physical Symptoms of Adrenal Dysfunction:
- Increased susceptibility to flu
- Respiratory illnesses
- Trembling in times of stress
- Low body temperature
- Pain in the back, shoulders and neck
External Physical Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Sweating, even with no physical activity
Mental Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:
- Lack of sex drive
- Memory lapses
- Craving for sweet and salty foods
- Inability to handle any form of stress
A saliva or blood test can help determine the levels of hormones. Generally, cortisol (a stress hormone) levels are very high in the early stages of adrenal dysfunction. Over time, due to chronic stress, the adrenal glands are unable to produce sufficient amounts of the hormone, thus causing hormone deficiency. Hence, it’s crucial know the levels of hormones being produced before adding them to your treatment regimen.
Modifications of Lifestyle
The most common treatment is a complete lifestyle overhaul. A diet that’s low in carbohydrates and sugars should be avoided, and consumption of meat, whole grain foods and fruits is recommended, as is the consumption of plenty of water. You should avoid the use of hydrogenated fats. Exercise such as walking, cycling or swimming is crucial. Adrenal supplements and B complex supplements can also help the glands to produce required amounts of hormones. In serious cases, hormone replacement therapy in the form of pregenolone supplementation is advised. Pregenolone, a hormone responsible for the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, can help dampen the effects of adrenal insufficiency and reverse any symptoms that are present.
If adrenal dysfunction is diagnosed, it’s easy to treat and live with. You should therefore visit your doctor for medical checks at least once a year.