What are Your Adrenal Glands and How are they Affecting Your Health?
Do you wake up groggy and exhausted, even after a full night’s sleep? Do you often feel totally depleted by the afternoon? Are you restless at night, or find yourself unable to fall asleep because your mind is racing?
We live in a busy, always on the go culture. But there’s a difference between being a bit tired after a long day, and feeling completely exhausted all day long. If you’re struggling with inexplicable levels of fatigue, moodiness and brain fog, you might need to take a look at your adrenal glands.
What are your adrenal glands?
Your adrenal glands are located atop your kidneys and are responsible for the fight-or-flight response. When your brain perceives a threat, your adrenals will release hormones to help you deal with the threat. Those hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, will cause a variety of fight-or-flight symptoms, such as elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and suppression of the digestive system and immune responses.
This is okay if you’ve encountered a real threat and you need to respond right away. But if you’re dealing with everyday stressors that are creating an ongoing cycle of stress, your adrenals can be negatively affected.
Blood sugar levels and adrenals
Blood sugar dysregulation can also lead to dysfunction with the adrenal glands. Let’s say you start your day with a cup of coffee and a bagel. The caffeine and carbohydrates will give you a quick burst of energy, but without an appropriate balance of macronutrients, your blood sugar will get too high. That’s when your central nervous system will signal to the pancreas to release insulin to remove the excess glucose from the bloodstream.
This can create a new problem: your blood sugar is too low. To correct that, the adrenals come into play. Your adrenal glands will then release hormones to help you stabilize your blood sugar and regain your energy. This could have all happened by 10 am. And then if you add in a high-stress day, a carb-heavy lunch, and more caffeine… well, you can see how this can turn into a real roller coaster for your blood sugar levels and your adrenal glands.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue
If your adrenal glands are fatigued, some of the symptoms you might experience are:
Feeling groggy and exhausted after waking up in the morning
Short burst of energy early in the day, followed by a crash in the afternoon
Weakened immune system
How do you know if it’s actually adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue may also be referred to as hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction. And because it can be brought on by chronic stress, it’s likely that many of us will deal with this issue at some point in our lives.
That being said, it can be hard to distinguish the symptoms of HPA dysfunction from symptoms of other disorders. And people who suffer from adrenal fatigue will often get hormone panels done that come back within normal ranges. Thus, it’s difficult to accurately diagnose adrenal fatigue.
However, just because your hormone levels fall into a “normal” range does not mean that they’re at optimal levels for your body. You could be on the lower end of the normal range and already be experiencing symptoms, whereas another person with that same level may not have any symptoms. It’s important to listen to your own body, even as you use diagnostic tools like blood work to help you determine what’s going on.
If you think you might be suffering from adrenal fatigue, help and healing is possible. Schedule a free consultation with me here.
The content found on Integrative Counseling and Nutrition Consulting platform is not intended to be a substitute for professional therapeutic or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your psychiatrist, therapist, primary care physician, or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.