Adrenal Fatigue For Dummies
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Adrenal fatigue and issues with sodium and salt are very closely intertwined. Edema (swelling) and craving salt are two common salt-related symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

Edemas and adrenal fatigue

If you wake up in the morning and notice swelling, especially in your legs, the swelling may be due to adrenal fatigue. Increased cortisol and aldosterone from the adrenal glands can cause your body to retain salt and water, causing you to swell up. The term health professionals use to describe swelling, especially in the legs, is edema. Edema is often seen in the later stages of adrenal fatigue.

Some people develop swelling and edema around their abdominal area, without swelling in their extremities; these folks may have difficulty buttoning their shirts. Other clues include shoes or pants that are difficult to put on or that don't fit one day but fit the next.

One way doctors evaluate for edema is by pressing around the shin. If the depression exists for some time, you have pitting, which is a sign of edema.

If you're suffering from edema, be aware that medical conditions besides adrenal fatigue can cause swelling. They include heart disease and congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and liver disease. A problem with the blood flow in the veins of your legs — called venous insufficiency — can also cause swelling. Your healthcare provider will want to further evaluate you for these conditions.

If you have edema, it's important to weigh yourself daily. Changes in fluid weight, or edema weight, can occur on a daily basis. As adrenal fatigue is treated, you may notice a decrease in edema and a related decrease in weight.

Salt cravings and adrenal fatigue

One common symptom of adrenal fatigue is continually craving salt. This often happens in the advanced stages of adrenal fatigue. As your adrenal glands become unable to produce enough of the hormone aldosterone, something strange takes place. Aldosterone is responsible for telling the kidneys to retain the salt that your body needs.

If your adrenal glands don't produce enough aldosterone, your kidneys eliminate the salt through the urine, leading you to crave more salt.

When aldosterone levels are low, your kidneys aren't fully able to eliminate potassium. While the sodium level in your body is lower than normal, the potassium level may be very high. Too high of a potassium level can affect the heart, slowing it down. Very high potassium levels are potentially fatal.

If you crave salt constantly, drink water to avoid dehydration. Other electrolytes and minerals can be affected in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue as well. Be aware of the potassium content of what you consume. Your healthcare provider may order lab tests (blood work) to follow your sodium and potassium levels.

In the case of adrenal fatigue, your craving for salt is an important symptom. Having too little sodium in your system isn't good. If you're craving salt, your blood pressure may be low.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Dr. Richard Snyder, DO, is board certified in both internal medicine and nephrology, as well as a clinical professor at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional sciences as well as a specialist in sports dietetics. She is the coauthor of Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies.

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