Working in work, health and safety has allowed me to develop a wide range of knowledge and experience around wellbeing and health topics
Are you constantly feel tired and run down and having trouble in finding a little extra pep in your step? Well, you may not just be tired, you may suffer from the symptoms of what is now being called Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). There also exists a syndrome known as Adrenal Deficiency Syndrome (ADS) but that is something altogether different and medically accepted and backed up by more research, more so than its fatigue-based cousin that can develop through several factors namely prolonged stress and other factors.
You’ve might have had a chance to read a bit about AFS and things like it; like chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and noticed that doctors are a bit on the fence about its existence as a medical issue. but in given so many people are making mention of it and its effects around the world, we may very well have to wait for the medical community to catch up on this one.
If you have found this article, then you are quite likely already suffering with the symptoms that tend to go along with this disease. Fortunately for us, there are a few ways that we can hopefully negate the symptoms associated with AFS. If you suspect that you may be suffering from AFS or something similar I strongly suggest that you visit your doctor or medical specialist regardless of what Dr Google is telling you, as they will be able to do some testing to narrow down what is happening in your specific instance. In the meantime, here are twelve signs that you might be suffering from adrenal fatigue syndrome.
1. You Feel Excessively Tired
We have all been there! So tired and worn out that we feel like we will never get our strength back. The unfortunate thing with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is that you can end up feeling like your battery is completely flat and your brain doesn’t want to work before you have even had a chance to do anything.
Being in a constant state of tiredness can make a person feel run down and in desperate need of a nap. You might have trouble getting up in the morning, even after a sufficient sleep. This excessive tiredness will also make small or mundane tasks feel overwhelmingly large because you just don’t seem to have the energy.
2. Craving Something a Little Salty?
Have you been feeling a gnawing hunger for some salty goodness in your life?
Well, having cravings for salty things could very well be a sign that your adrenal glands are feeling the pinch now. Salt can be of some help with AFS as it might be useful in helping your system heal and reboot your adrenal glands before they are irreparably damaged, and it might even help take the sting out of some of the other symptoms.
If you have found that your system is suffering from low levels of sodium and Aldosterone (a steroid hormone), It can be potentially beneficial to add a teaspoon of salt to some filtered water in the morning to start your systems firing a little more efficiently and aid on getting you back on track.
3. You Have Become a Bit of a Night Owl
Those with adrenal fatigue have a strong tendency to feel more active and awake in the latter part of the day and sometimes into the evening. The best explained by saying that there is a pattern to the way an AFS sufferers' energy levels are regulated that is a peculiar compared to others. Tending to feel quite fatigued in the morning, a bit more awake and alert around lunchtime (the food and a little sugar helps) and then in the middle of the afternoon that is usually when a drain on energy levels begins to emerge. This is namely because of your systems schedule for production of cortisol (a stress hormone) is on a different timetable to non-AFS sufferers, where a feeling of improvement and clarity is gained in the evening with even more fatigue setting in around 8:30pm. You will find that your brain's ability to make connections and its general cohesion is better in the later parts of the day but only for a few hours. Each person is a little different, but this is a good rule of thumb for scheduling your day.
4. You Head Gets Fuzzy or You Get Dizzy When You Stand Up
A sense of dizziness or fuzziness when you stand up is a little less likely than other symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue, but it is more likely than with you than your average person. You may also experience some sensations of vertigo or a loss of balance when you are just walking or even standing in place.
This annoying sensation is commonly associated with having low blood pressure, so what is in fact happening when you go to stand up is your adrenal system is so overwhelmed that it is slow to respond, and therefore there is a delay in your blood pressure rising to compensate for your change of position from seated to standing. So, if your system is feeling a little overburdened, be sure to take it easy and not put too much stress on yourself.
5. Even a Little Stress Can Be Too Much
Stress over a sustained period is one of the major causes of Adrenal Fatigue, so it can’t really be any surprise that sustaining even more stress can push your adrenal system past its capacity to cope. It makes sense that more stress equals nothing good for your adrenal glands. Your adrenals are the things that manage the back and forth of your body's fight-or-flight response, the response that kicks in normally when you are in threatening situations that equal danger. In our day-to-day lives, without the jolt of being chased by a Sabretooth Tiger, which means it becomes more finely attuned to helping us to identify other threats like workplace bullies, for example. What you will find is that you are having a harder time being able to deal with the normal stressors that we are confronted with daily.
The thinking is that after an extended period of stress where your cortisol levels are high, there is a corresponding drop after it from the extended overstimulation, leaving your defences lowered and your capacity to respond to stressors reduced. This is the first steps in the recipe of what people would generally call "burnout", which starts with your ability to cope being reduces and progresses to habits that will leave you wanting to just disappear from the goings on of your daily life. Good thing is that when it comes to this issue, you can give your system a rest, and let it heal; by taking control of your life and removing stressors as you can or are able you will be giving your system every chance to rest and replenish.
6. You Pick Up Illnesses Without Even Trying
When we get sick our system will effectively raise its temperature and inflame to get burn out the issue. Yep, that is a real over simplified interpretation of the process for sure, but the basics are there. Now think about a time when you were under prolonged stress, and you were met by sickness. This is because your system is flooded by cortisol, which is a stress hormone, but it also happens to be a natural inflammatory. When your adrenal system is overworked it might be keeping the wheels on the bus for the meantime; but unfortunately, whilst your levels are that high, it is working against you because that anti-inflammatory response is calming all your systems other responses and therefore your immune response is compromised.
When the recoil comes and your levels of cortisol drop, you are highly likely to have a system that will fiercely react to viruses and bugs and likely autoimmune issues like endometriosis. The tendency for the average AFS is to have higher levels earlier on and as the syndrome progresses levels will drop to much lower levels.
7. Fight The Fuzzies of Brain Fog
Unsurprisingly, people that are suffering the symptoms of AFS are going to already not be sleeping well and feeling extremely tired or even just plain old stressed out. This all ends up equalling a reduction in our mental capacity and what is commonly called Brain Fog. AFS comes with a feeling of fogginess that affects your memory and perception and even your emotional capacity, like a subtle form of emotional and mental dissociation. An inability to recall and retain information is commonly associated with these feelings and can affect our daily life, especially at work.
Someone experiencing brain fog because of adrenal fatigue begins struggle to recall even the simplest things and will constantly feel like they are in a confused state, and this can lead to a decrease in the things that we can achieve daily.
8. Diminished Sex Drive
A great deal of various things, shortage of sleep, stress, trauma, and hormones can affect your sex drive. These factors can potentially increase or decrease it and normally we go through distinct phases or changes on a quite frequent basis. A symptom of AFS is a reduction in your sex drive. The body is suffering a strain and a reduction in the basic building blocks that it needs to feel rested and to heal and shake of fatigue. The decrease of drive is also affected more keenly when we try to offset symptoms with caffeine and similar substances to artificially boost our capacity and in the end, it just depletes it.
9. Bags Underneath Your Eyes
At one point or another we have all been so tuckered out that we have a set of luggage under our eyes. No matter what we do or how much we main line the coffee, we just can’t get our motor running and those bags under our eyes are there to stay long term. Dark circles under the eyes by themselves are normal after you have not gotten enough sleep, especially if it has dragged on for a few nights in a row. Sufferers of adrenal fatigue are likely to get a decent set of panda eyes just from the usual stresses that we go through, like emotional or physical stress (not eating well or drinking enough fluids). Given long enough, the internal issues externalise and one of the first places that will turn up is under our eyes.
I think our eyes are really one of the best indicators that we are not feeling as well as we can be, so do your best to watch what is going on with that space, if your eyes are dull or red, or if you have massive panda eyes don’t be afraid to make sure that you give yourself the time and proper healing nutrients to heal the damage that your system has been incurring.
10. Your Cycle Is In A Spin
Ladies, take extra note of this one because it is more focused on you than anyone else. However, males, please don’t skip this one as it can also be related to your thyroid function as well. But it can occur in men as well when talking about the thyroid. Adrenal fatigue effects thyroid and menstrual cycles, because of the endocrine system, which contains the adrenal glands. The systems of those of us with adrenal fatigue syndrome are being affected and upset by a flood of compounds that are slamming all our natural balances internally.
Treating the imbalances that exist within our system changes the game and with things like eating healthier, stress relief strategies, and more snoozing we can find that we might just gain some ground on this stealthy syndrome. There is no silver bullet for AFS, unfortunately, and I mean that because we are also used to being able to treat our issues with a pill or treatment. The treatment for AFS in my experience, needs to be faced from many fronts and addressed with a tailored response. The equilibrium that is usually found with our systems hormone production can be thrown off by our lifestyles, but equally it can be found again by just evaluating what we are doing and what we are doing to our body.
11. Naps Don’t Come Easily
In one of the previously mentioned signs, I mentioned that there is a little surge of energy that AFS sufferers encounter in the later part of the afternoon, well this might feel like a little island of normalcy, but it often comes with a side effect and that effect is that it can disrupt your normal sleeping pattern. What is happening is that your entire sleep cycle with way off the mark and you are not reaching that space in a night's sleep where you end up, waking in the morning feeling revitalised and ready to take on the world.
The fact is that our hormone levels are all wonky, and that means that when we really should be feeling at our best; we end up feeling like we can’t focus or sustain a proper thought in our heads. The side effect of this is that we end up feeling more stressed because of the situation and end up putting even more strain on our system, so be prepared to not put too much stress on your shoulders and forgive yourself for not being 100 percent all the time, when it comes down to it, who is ever 100 percent ready to go all the time.
The best way to navigate your way out of these concerns is to make sure you’re going to sleep at a reasonable time, nothing past ten, if we can help it. Make sure your room is empty of distractions and as dark as you can make it, as this will aid your body in replenishing its reserves and potentially resetting your body clock.
12. Tummy Issues Can Be Hard to Swallow
All the research that is out in the world now leads us to the knowledge that your tummy is connected to the rest of our bodies and that an issue in our digestive system equals a not wonderful time all around. A person’s health can be interrogated by taking a closer look at their stomach and likewise a fair bit of progress can be made by giving the tummy what it needs to feel and stomach acting like a weight on your back. Reducing any massive disturbances that cause big shifts in your blood sugar is a fantastic way to start, as these large and sharp jumps and drops are just putting strain on an already strained adrenal system. The stuff that we put in our mouth is linked with our overall health so choose wisely with the foods you eat, making sure to watch out for that sweet stuff and the salty as mentioned before as your adrenals will be keying you towards wanting salt and you don’t want to overdo it with a binge. Your stomach is also sensitive to swelling, bloating and overall bad digestion a lot of which can come from having too much stress in your life.
Those suffering with the symptoms should begin to reduce their consumption of processed foods, and refined sugars, wheat or gluten-based products that might be causing some trouble, you don’t have to go cold turkey but just swap the unhealthy food with superior quality foods like organic vegetables, grass fed or organically farmed meats and a mixture of nutritious fruits and healthy fats.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Paddy Michelson
Paddy Michelson (author) from Australia on September 24, 2021:
Thank you both. I appreciate the positive feedback.
Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on September 22, 2021:
Very informative! The more you know, the better prepared you can be. Thank you for a great hub!
Liz Westwood from UK on September 22, 2021:
This is a very interesting and helpful article. I appreciate the clear lay out and the points you make about the symptoms.