5 Problems Commonly Associated with Adrenal Fatigue - dummies

5 Problems Commonly Associated with Adrenal Fatigue

By Richard Snyder, Wendy Jo Peterson

Many people with adrenal fatigue suffer from a multitude of problems that affect how they feel, their stamina, their sex life, and their ability to fight off infections. You may feel sick, or you may feel tired. Problems can include the following:

  • Constant fatigue and weakness

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Decreased libido

  • Susceptibility to infections

  • Recurrent allergies

Healthcare practitioners find that many of these symptoms occur together.

You and your healthcare provider need look at your symptoms in totality. If you don’t, you may find that you’re treating each individual symptom but you’re missing the big picture of what’s causing your symptoms in the first place.

Adrenal fatigue and constant tiredness

Being constantly tired is one of the hallmark symptoms of adrenal fatigue — fatigue is right in the name, after all. A constant fatigue doesn’t go away. You can try taking afternoon naps or taking vitamins, but nothing seems to help. This fatigue is a consequence of the constant depletion of the reserves of the adrenal glands.

Your degree of tiredness and weakness depends on your baseline body constitution and your stage of adrenal fatigue. Some people can deal with chronic stress for a long period of time and then become exhausted all at once. Others experience a gradual onset and worsening of fatigue. If you’re experiencing constant fatigue, seek the help of a qualified medical professional. You may be at risk for adrenal exhaustion.

How sleep problems and adrenal fatigue are related

You’d think that if you’re tired, you’d have little or no trouble hitting the sack and getting a good night’s sleep. Think again. Not only does someone with adrenal fatigue not sleep well, but he or she often suffers from insomnia, an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. Sleeping during the day doesn’t help much, either.

One possible reason for difficulty sleeping is sustained and increased cortisol production by the adrenal glands. Here’s the medical perspective: At night, when you go to sleep, the production of cortisol usually drops until around 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., when you typically experience a rise in cortisol levels.

But sustained cortisol production alters the circadian rhythm of someone with adrenal fatigue. The cortisol revs up the body at night, which is the wrong thing when you want to go to sleep.

In addition to cortisol, the other stress hormones, including epinephrine and norepinephrine, may be produced in higher amounts than normal. So although you may try to get a good night’s sleep, the process can be plenty difficult.

Adrenal fatigue and your sex drive

A decrease or loss of your desire to have sex can be an initial clue that you have adrenal fatigue. When the adrenal glands are making more cortisol in the setting of chronic stress, they may not be making as much testosterone and other sex hormones.

Decreased levels of the sex hormones for men and women can cause not only a loss of interest in sex but also a problem with sexual performance.

When faced with this condition, men tend to ask their doctors for prescriptions for medications such as Viagra and Cialis. When adrenal fatigue is present, these medications may have little effect; although they may help with problems with erectile dysfunction, they don’t improve libido.

Treatment involves measuring your sex hormone levels and identifying and treating the stressor.

The relationship between adrenal fatigue and recurrent infections

Have you ever noticed that when you’re stressed, you never seem to be infection-free? You’re always fighting off some bug, only to catch another one. Adrenal fatigue compromises your immune system, and battling infections such as the following becomes more and more difficult for your body:

  • One of the most common presenting symptoms of adrenal fatigue is recurring lung infections, especially bronchitis. With sustained secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands, your immune system can’t mount an effective immune response.

  • Another common symptom related to adrenal gland function is any infection that seems to take forever to go away. Maybe you acquired a viral illness. With an intact immune system, you should be able to fight off the infection and begin to feel better. With adrenal fatigue, recovery can take a long time.

Too much medication can complicate the problem. Think about what typically happens when you have a bout of acute bronchitis or another infection. You go to your healthcare provider, who may prescribe an antibiotic, which doesn’t work if you have a viral illness. If you have recurrent symptoms, you may be prescribed more than one round of antibiotics.

Trouble is, not only can frequent antibiotic use alter your intestinal flora (your gut bugs) and make you more susceptible to infection, but it can also promote the overgrowth of the yeast Candida, which further alters your immune system.

Furthermore, the more medications you’re on, the greater the possibilities of your developing side effects (the so-called drug-drug interaction) that can further stress the adrenal glands and further weaken you.

Lyme disease and other chronic infections can be a cause of adrenal fatigue in the first place. Having a comprehensive evaluation done is important not only to confirm the diagnosis of adrenal fatigue but also to search for underlying causes.

How to deal with adrenal fatigue related to allergy reoccurrences

People with adrenal fatigue tend to have recurrent allergies. These could be food, mold, or seasonal allergies. You may find yourself having more episodes of sneezing, eyes tearing, and coughing.

Allergies can trigger the development of asthma. Fortunately, several studies have pointed out that using probiotics can help alleviate asthma and allergy symptoms.