Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry,
frustration and resentment.
The adrenal glands are located at the top of the kidneys and play an important role in producing hormones essential to life, as well as those that are nonessential. Cortisol, for instance, regulates metabolism, while aldosterone controls blood pressure; both are critical in keeping us alive and healthy. Adrenaline, on the other hand, is considered nonessential but helps the body react to stress. These, among other hormones, are all produced by the adrenal glands.
Because hormones are responsible for so many actions within the body, it comes as no surprise that when the adrenal glands are underperforming, a host of symptoms may arise. This is termed “adrenal fatigue.”
Yet, since its symptoms can closely resemble other conditions, adrenal fatigue isn’t always properly diagnosed. It therefore takes a comprehensive analysis of the patient and their symptoms to determine whether the adrenal glands are functioning optimally. Without this intervention, individuals with adrenal fatigue may face a higher risk of infections and a general feeling of poor health.  Learn more about this serious condition, its symptoms, and how it can be treated below.
A web search for adrenal fatigue may yield conflicting results. Some traditional medicine practitioners dismiss the symptoms of adrenal fatigue as general signs of aging, despite the fact that a very real and serious underlying condition is at play. This is because many traditional doctors aim to address their patients’ symptoms first – instead of what’s really causing them – and it’s notoriously challenging to get to the bottom of symptoms such as chronic fatigue, nausea, and muscle weakness.
While adrenal fatigue isn’t always responsible for these and other persistent symptoms, it’s certainly a possible explanation for them. When the adrenal glands are exposed to long periods of stress, they may fail to keep up with the demands of these stressors and begin to under-perform as a result. The condition can leave you feeling chronically fatigued, even with plenty of sleep.
In the past, the syndrome has been referred to as a number of different conditions, including neurasthenia, adrenal apathy, and non-Addison’s hypoadrenia. This is perhaps indicative of the greater medical community’s general sense of uncertainty surrounding the complex ways in which the symptoms of underperforming adrenal glands can manifest.
Thankfully, optimal health specialists are committed to taking a comprehensive look at patient wellness to understand each patient’s symptoms and the broad range of conditions that may underlie them.
While adrenal fatigue may continue to puzzle traditionalists, specialists with a focus on modern developments in medicine use a few criteria to help them diagnose the syndrome. One method is understanding the causes of the condition and comparing the patient’s medical history against these factors.
Adrenal fatigue often occurs when an individual has sustained long periods of stress – including mental, physical, emotional, or a combination thereof. Because the adrenal glands are responsible for supplying the hormones which respond to stress, exposure to intense or prolonged stressors takes its toll on the glands.
After a while, they become unable to meet the demands of stress. Sources of immense physical stress may include acute or chronic infections. Adrenal fatigue is especially common as a result of respiratory infections, including pneumonia, influenza, and bronchitis. It may also occur after a major surgery, or an emotional crisis such as the loss of a close loved one. 
Yet, the stressors that cause adrenal fatigue don’t have to correlate with a single, identifiable event. In some cases, repeated or constant stress can also result in the condition. Poor nutrition may even be enough to impede adrenal function, as can environmental stress from pollutants and toxins.
Long-term psychological stress from work, problematic relationships, and similar unavoidable circumstances can affect the glands as well. In these cases, the adrenal glands may still function, but not as they should. Thus, the effects of these ongoing sources of stress are cumulative. Symptoms may therefore develop slowly over time, which brings us to our next topic.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
Not only are the adrenal glands affected by all types of stressors, but they also activate the body’s response to mental and physical stress through hormones. These hormones regulate many different processes and aspects of health, including energy balance, immune response, heart rate, and muscle tone. Thus, adrenal fatigue symptoms can be multifaceted.
Among the most noteworthy indicators of adrenal fatigue is, unsurprisingly, fatigue. The exhaustion tends to have no identifiable cause and may peak in the early morning and mid-afternoon. People with adrenal fatigue tend to have difficulty waking up, despite getting ample sleep, and typically turn to unhealthy solutions such as heavily caffeinated drinks and nutritionally poor foods that give a temporary energy spike.
Cravings for salty and sweet snacks are therefore a common symptom. Adrenal fatigue may also make it difficult to recover quickly or thoroughly from illness and stress. It can also produce digestive issues such as nausea, in addition to muscle aches.
The fact that the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are so general is a common basis upon which they are so readily dismissed. Yet, anyone who has experienced these challenges knows that they are not only frustrating, but that they may actually interfere with your quality of life over time. To that end, finding a physician who is committed to taking your complaints seriously, then diagnosing and treating the cause behind them, is integral for both short-term relief and long-term optimal wellness.
Combatting adrenal fatigue typically requires a comprehensive approach to wellness optimization. In some cases, the patient may require a hormone replacement to compensate for any insufficiencies caused by poor adrenal function. In others, dietary modifications may be needed.
For example, in some individuals whose adrenal glands aren’t functioning sufficiently, a high-sodium diet may be necessary, while supplementing key nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium may also be required.  Other vitamins used to support healthy adrenal function include magnesium and vitamins C, B5, B6, and B12. Patients may also benefit from a low-sugar diet free of packaged or processed foods.
Additionally, in people whose adrenal fatigue may be caused by emotional or mental stress, developing stress management practices may be necessary as a long-term resolution. Incorporating exercise into your regular routine may aid in overall health as well as a healthy coping practice for outside stressors.
If you suspect you could have adrenal fatigue, the first step in finding relief is working with a team of physicians who will take your symptoms seriously. At Cenegenics, our expert staff is committed to taking an all-encompassing approach to health optimization for every patient. We perform a comprehensive set of tests to assess for dozens of biomarkers, which together, form a clear and all-inclusive picture of health.
From there, our specialists use powerful solutions such as individualized dietary planning, tailored exercise programs, nutraceuticals, and hormone replacement therapy when clinically indicated to help patients restore better physical functioning at every level for an optimized quality of life both now and into the future.
Whether you have symptoms that resemble adrenal fatigue or you’re simply seeking ways to defy your age™ and feel your best, contact the Cenegenics center near you to begin your journey towards optimal health.
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About the Contributor
Rudy Inaba is Cenegenics’ Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise. He is a recognized fitness and sports nutrition consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in clinical exercise physiology and lifestyle management. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rudy joined Cenegenics where he leads 20 clinical locations nationwide in their advancements in kinesiology, nutritional biochemistry, and their analyses of industry research & market trending.
This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources:
The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation
The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy
Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT
Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.
Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS
Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.
 FAQ on Adrenal Fatigue. Adrenalfatigue.org
FAQ on Adrenal Fatigue; see above.
 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/adrenal-insufficiency-addisons-disease