The adrenal gland is a small, triangular-shaped gland that sits on top of the kidneys. It has two parts: the cortex and the medulla. The cortex produces three hormones: cortisol, aldosterone, and sex hormones. Cortisol helps to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Aldosterone helps to regulate the balance of sodium and potassium in the body. Sex hormones are responsible for the development and function of male and female sex characteristics. The medulla produces adrenaline and noradrenaline. These hormones are responsible for the “fight or flight” response. They increase heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate and help prepare the body for physical activity.
Adrenal fatigue is when the adrenal gland cannot produce sufficient amounts of these hormones, leading to a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, trouble concentrating, mood swings, blood pressure problems, decreased immunity, irritability, trouble sleeping, decreased immunity, and weight gain.
The best way to diagnose adrenal fatigue is with salivary testing, which can measure cortisol and DHEA levels in the body. Adrenal fatigue is commonly misdiagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromylagia, and Depressive and Anxiety Disorders.
Treatment options vary depending on the individual case. Still, they typically involve lifestyle changes such as reducing stress levels via meditation or yoga and improving diet, getting enough sleep and rest as well as supplements such as cortisol and adrenaline support herbs. In severe cases, cortisol may be prescribed to normalize cortisol levels and relieve symptoms.