Five Signs of Adrenal Fatigue

Technically speaking, the term “adrenal fatigue” isn’t a medical diagnosis. Instead, it describes a variety of symptoms related to hormone insufficiencies associated with your adrenal glands. 

Your adrenal glands make hormones that regulate several essential life functions, from your metabolism and immune system to your blood pressure and stress response. The adrenals have a triangular shape and one sits on top of each of your kidneys. And, when they receive the signal from your pituitary gland in your brain, they release over 50 hormones directly into your bloodstream. 

Because of the important role your adrenal glands play in your overall health, numerous issues can arise when they don’t function properly. This can occur because of problems with the adrenal glands themselves or because of a problem with the pituitary gland.

As an endocrinologist, Dr. Rohit Dwivedi identifies and treats adrenal disorders at Sonoran Endocrinology. He shared the five most common symptoms that bring people to his offices in Surprise and Gilbert, Arizona.

1. Fatigue

When your adrenal glands don’t function properly, it often impacts cortisol levels the most. While you may associate cortisol with stress, it plays a much larger role in your body, including regulating your sleep/wake cycle. As a result, having poor adrenal function can lead to ongoing fatigue or problems getting to sleep at night.

If you find yourself constantly reaching for another cup of coffee or other stimulants to make it through the day, it could be a sign of a hormone problem.

2. Mood problems

Having overactive and underactive adrenal glands can significantly impact your mood. In fact, adrenal levels have direct links to several psychiatric symptoms, including:

Whether you find yourself struggling with mood swings or having difficulty managing stress for no apparent reason, you should talk to your doctor.

3. “Brain fog”

Your hormones have a profound effect on your body, including your brain. Without proper balance, it’s common to experience cognitive issues or feel as if you have perpetual brain fog. 

In addition to brain fog, you can also experience frequent headaches, low blood pressure, and dizziness when you have abnormally low adrenal hormones.

4. Food cravings

Do you find yourself craving salt or sugar? If this is a new, excessive, or persistent problem, it could be a sign of adrenal insufficiency. That’s because hormones secreted by your adrenal glands regulate certain electrolytes — including sodium and potassium — and your metabolism, including glucose production.

As adrenal gland function declines in your system, it can lead to salt or sugar disturbances in your body, causing cravings and even unexplained weight loss.

5. Infertility

Few of us associate our reproductive health with our adrenal glands. However, they produce both DHEA and androgenic steroids. In women, these precursor hormones get converted into the female hormone estrogen by the ovaries. In men, the testes convert them into male hormones called androgens.

To conceive, a woman has to ovulate — a process directly affected by how hormones get released, including those associated with the adrenal glands. Approximately 25% of women with fertility problems experience infrequent or absent ovulation. 

Adrenal gland disorders can also affect puberty, causing early sex organ development in boys and female body hair in girls.

Diagnosing and treating adrenal gland disorders

Adrenal gland disorders can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms can appear in response to a normal, busy life or resemble those seen in many diseases. But Dr. Dwivedi specializes in common to complex endocrinology disorders, including those involving your adrenal glands, and he works tirelessly to get to the root of your health concerns.

First, Dr. Dwivedi discusses your symptoms and performs a health screening, often doing blood, urine, or saliva testing to measure your hormone levels. After reaching a diagnosis, Dr. Dwivedi outlines a personalized treatment strategy. 

In most cases, you can manage adrenal problems with medications or hormone replacement therapy to help restore balance to your system. However, if you have an abnormal growth, like a pituitary or adrenal tumor, that’s impacting your gland function, Dr. Dwivedi could recommend surgery.

If you have signs of an adrenal problem, Dr. Dwivedi can help. Contact the Sonoran Endocrinology office nearest you by calling us or scheduling an appointment online today.

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