We all know about adrenaline – when our heart starts pumping, our limbs tingle and we get a surge of anxious energy flowing through our bodies. A number of things can trigger an adrenaline, whether it be excitement of a new situation or the stress and fear of something unknown. We often never even think about where our adrenaline comes from, but your adrenal glands are a huge part of the health and wellness of your body.
Located just above the kidneys, the adrenal glands are two small organs that produce and regulate not just adrenaline but a number of other important hormones in our bodies. They are made up of two distinct parts – the outer shell, known as the adrenal cortex, and the inner center, known as the adrenal medulla. While the adrenal medulla is what produces adrenaline, it is the outer part of the gland that is the most important to our very lives. The adrenal cortex produces cortisol, which regulates and stimulates the metabolism, and aldosterone, which controls blood pressure and mineral balance. These two small glands, each less than three inches across, play an enormous part in our body’s functions.
What happens, though, when the adrenal glands begin to malfunction?
Adrenal fatigue is just that – your adrenal glands begin to malfunction and start to produce hormones below capacity. There are many causes for adrenal fatigue, with the primary culprit being stress. Emotional, psychological and physical stressors can affect the body in profound ways, and with the adrenal glands producing some of the most important hormones in the human body, they are among the first hit by prolonged and acute stress. The death of a loved one or pet, the trauma of a major bodily surgery or just prolonged mental stress can put immense pressure on the adrenal glands to pump out the necessary hormones to keep your body regulated in such high periods of stress. Sometimes it can all become too much for the poor things and they start to fizz out.
How do you know if you have adrenal fatigue?
There are a number of symptoms associated with it, with the most common a constant feeling of exhaustion. Even if you get an adequate amount of sleep, you feel tired when you wake up, you feel tired all day and many people who suffer from this turn to coffee, cola and other stimulants to boost their energy level. These, however, are only temporary fixes and do nothing to address the problem, only the symptom. Below are more signs and symptoms of possible adrenal fatigue:
- Body aches
- Unexplained weight loss
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of body hair
- Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation)
If you experience any number of these symptoms, it doesn’t automatically mean you have adrenal fatigue, but there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself if you feel you may have under-performing adrenal glands. Do you feel tired for no reason? Do you have trouble getting up in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep? Do you just feel rundown or constantly have “grey” feelings throughout the day? Do you feel more awake toward the end of the day (after 6 p.m.) than you did all day prior?
Adrenal fatigue affects more than half of the population, with the high stress society that we live in doing nothing to relieve our bodies of the “fight-or-flight” state that constant stress puts us in. This constant high-alert state throws everything in our body out of whack with the adrenal glands one of the most affected, leaving these two small organs to play catch up with how much hormone they have to pump out to try and regulate our bodies. If an inadequate supply is released, we get that run down feeling and feel like no matter what we do, we just can’t get enough rest to feel all right in the morning.
Luckily there are ways to help your adrenal glands cope. Reducing stress levels is the first and foremost, which includes limiting the number of stressors your body is put there. This includes getting rid of harmful toxins such as nicotine out of your life if you smoke, eating a proper diet to give your body the nutrients and calories it needs to keep up its functions and getting enough exercise every week to tone your muscles, strengthen your cardiovascular system and keep your brain engaged with a relaxing regime. Your body needs time to recover, and taking these first steps in the right direction puts you well on the path to getting your body back into the zone it needs to be in. You are not a machine; stress can wear even the toughest of us down and adrenal fatigue is only one part of the problem.
To learn more about how to keep your adrenal glands working at the right capacity, please call for a free consultation and more information!