Although your adrenal glands are small, they play a vital role in producing and regulating hormones that control everything from blood pressure to metabolism, immune system capability and reproductive function.
Sitting just on top of your kidneys, the adrenal glands generally do their multiple jobs very effectively. However, they are susceptible to certain types of cancers, and may occasionally fail to produce sufficient steroid hormones (i.e. in the case of Addison’s Disease).
There is also some evidence that chronic stress can lead the adrenal gland to under-produce certain hormones.
The theory is that the glands become so over-taxed that their functionality starts to diminish—this is called “adrenal fatigue.”
Here are eight warning signs that many people ignore, but which indicate you may have adrenal fatigue (or indeed another adrenal gland issue).
If you wake up feeling unrested or find that you fall asleep at the drop of a hat, you’re suffering from fatigue.
Of course, fatigue is a nonspecific symptom that can sometimes link to chronic pain disorders (e.g. lupus and fibromyalgia) as well as mental health issues (such as depression). However, adrenal fatigue is one cause worth considering if your doctor rules out more readily identifiable conditions.
In the absence of other obvious explanations (e.g. premenstrual tension), cravings for either salt or sugar can indicate adrenal fatigue. Because your adrenal glands help to regulate your metabolic rate and mineral levels.
If these levels are out of whack, you can start feeling desperate for sugary candy or salty pretzels, so your body can replenish dwindling supplies.
Your adrenal glands regulate your blood pressure, so if your body is lacking in mineralocorticoids then you can suddenly find yourself feeling faint.
This might manifest in a dizzy spell, a lightheaded feeling when you stand up, or even fainting. Alternatively, you might not feel these symptoms but notice that your blood pressure tests as unusually low.
Many people are often in a daily struggle with losing weight. However, if more than 5% of your body weight mysteriously disappears over the course of about half of a year then you need to discuss this with a doctor.
Adrenal fatigue (and other adrenal gland issues, such as Addison’s disease) may be the culprit. Only a full blood workup can tell you more.
There are relatively benign causes of abdominal discomforts, such as trapped wind, a passing stomach virus, and period pain. However, if you’ve been experiencing pain in your abdomen for more than a day (or you’ve been experiencing severe pain for several hours), a thorough investigation is warranted.
When paired with other symptoms on this list, abdominal cramps can definitely be related to adrenal insufficiency. If the adrenal glands are producing insufficient glucocorticoids, you can end up with a serious case of indigestion.
Do you feel achy all over? If you don’t have a previously diagnosed condition that explains this (and if you haven’t been struck down by a nasty flu), adrenal gland issues are certainly worth considering.
Your adrenal glands play a role in immune system function and inflammatory processes. So you can end up with increased bodily inflammation that causes joint and connective tissue pain.
If your diarrhea, nausea or vomiting is a result of adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency, such symptoms will likely be paired with the abdominal pain mentioned above.
Glucocorticoids help to control how and when our food converts into energy. If you don’t have enough of these hormones in your bloodstream then your normal digestive processes can be inhibited. A week or more of vomiting or loose stools suggests it’s time to take a trip to the doctor.
Irritability and depression are the most common mood changes that adrenal gland problems can cause.
These symptoms may be a direct result of hormone imbalances. They could also be secondary symptoms that are the result of the wearing nature of being in constant pain or feeling unable to get restful sleep. (Click here for our full article, ‘Overcome Depression: 7 Secret Signs Of Depression To Look Out For'.)
The above health issues are all connected to the phenomenon of adrenal fatigue, and many people ignore them entirely. However, the very same symptoms also have a connection to other adrenal gland problems (e.g. Addison’s disease) and many common autoimmune disorders as well.
As such, it’s smart to submit to a full investigation in order to rule out serious diseases that medication could treat. Many doctors still do not recognize Adrenal Fatigue itself, (in spite of a wealth of anecdotal evidence), but if you can rule out every other relevant condition then reducing your stress levels is the best thing you can do.
Hopefully, your adrenal gland hormone levels will normalize in response!
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