By Janet Domke, RN, BSN
Adrenal fatigue is a term that can be very misleading. Adrenal fatigue is not a true medical condition but rather refers to a group of symptoms that may be related to adrenal gland function. Adrenal fatigue may result from chronic stress, which causes hormonal imbalances in the adrenals leading to adrenal insufficiency.
The function of the adrenal glands, which are located on the top of each kidney, is to produce hormones that:
- Maintain metabolism
- Regulate water and salt balance throughout the body
- Control the “fight or flight” stress response
Long-term stress can cause the adrenal glands to become fatigued and unable to keep up with the demands of the body. True adrenal insufficiency can be diagnosed with blood tests. Some symptoms that you may experience include:
- Craving salt and sugar.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Trouble getting to sleep and difficulty waking up.
- Loss of body hair.
Many people do not think about the symptoms and chalk it up to just being exhausted after a long day. Feelings of stress and exhaustion should not be your daily mantra. It may mean that your adrenal glands are struggling.
Here’s how to break the cycle:
- Get enough sleep by setting healthy sleep habits
- Eat regular meals and choose a healthy, balanced diet
- Minimize sugar intake
- Eat a high protein, low carb breakfast to boost energy levels early in the day
- Exercise daily. Take a brisk walk or calm your body with yoga
- Do things that make you happy. Self-care is very important
- Address the root cause of stressors in your life
We all know that stress is harmful for our well-being. Adrenal fatigue, even though not a true medical condition, wreaks havoc on our body, and recovery can take some time. As Jim Rohn (American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker) states, “take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
Consult your physician if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above.
Janet Domke is the clinical coordinator of Mather Hospital’s Bariatric & Robotic Centers of Excellence. She joined Mather’s Bariatric team in 2014 and is currently pursuing her certification in Bariatric nursing.