If you constantly feel run down and can’t seem to find that extra step, you may have what some experts call adrenal fatigue syndrome. Not to be confused with adrenal deficiency syndrome, which is a medically proven condition, the fatigue syndrome can be brought on by prolonged stress and other factors.
However, while medical professionals still debate the existence of adrenal fatigue, it has a name that might already have you thinking that you’ve got some of the associated symptoms. Luckily, there are also some ways to treat those symptoms. Here are 7 signs your adrenal glands, which are located atop your kidneys, may need some assistance.
1. You Feel Excessively Tired
We all have our bouts of being worn out, but adrenal fatigue syndrome (we’ll call it AFS for the purposes of this article) can leave you feeling tired even when you haven’t done anything that requires energy, according to AdrenalFatigue.org.
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 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. You Crave Salt
According to LiveStrong, craving salty snacks could be a warning sign from your adrenal glands that they’re tapped out. However, salt can actually be helpful in healing the overworked glands and curbing the symptoms, according to the source.
The reason for salt cravings is low sodium and aldosterone (a steroid hormone) levels in your body, noted LiveStrong. It recommends adding up to a teaspoon of salt of filtered water in the morning to give your system a kickstart.
3. You Get Energetic in the Evening
Those with adrenal fatigue tend to feel more awake in the evening hours, after 6 p.m. The Association of Women for the Advancement of Research and Education (AWARE) explains that there’s an energy pattern with AFS—namely very fatigued in the morning, with more alertness around lunch and a lull in the afternoon.
That’s because there’s a lull in cortisol (stress hormone) production in people with AFS, with a gradual recovery in the evening with another “wall” of fatigue around 9 p.m. The website notes that people with this condition tend to do their best work in the evening.
4. You Feel Dizzy Standing Up
This is a lesser symptom of AFS, but those with the syndrome can feel light-headed just by standing up too fast. You may also experience a loss of balance when standing or walking.
This might be attributed to low blood pressure when returning to a standing position, according to experts. Your blood pressure is supposed to rise when you’re upright; if this doesn’t happen it could mean your adrenal glands are overtaxed.
5. Lack of Tolerance for Stress
Since one of the causes of AFS is prolonged stress, it makes sense that more stress can prove too much for your adrenal glands, which manage your fight-or-flight responses to situations. This could mean it’s more difficult to face daily stresses such as the workplace.
AdrenalFatigue.org suggests that long periods of high cortisol from stress can be followed by a dip in cortisol due to overstimulation, making your body less prepared to deal with stress. This can lead to “burnout” that can decrease your overall tolerance to life events, which can then lead to being withdrawn socially. Adjustments to lifestyle can help you recover, said the source.
6. You Get Sick Easily
Since the stress hormone cortisol is also a natural anti-inflammatory, having an adrenal system that is working overtime can actually raise those cortisol levels too high and block your immune responses, according to AdrenalFatigueSolution.com.
Conversely, if your cortisol levels drop too low, you can also be prone to overreact to pathogens and end up with inflammation or even auto-immune diseases, said the source. You tend to have overly high levels of cortisol early in AFS, and lower levels as the condition drags on.
7. Brain Fog
It shouldn’t be all that surprising that someone who feels excessively tired, isn’t sleeping well, or is incredibly stressed is also probably not performing their best in terms of mental capacity! Adrenal fatigue syndrome creates a feeling that’s described as “brain fog” which mainly affects a person’s memory. It makes it hard for that person to retain and recall information. It can affect their work, school, or even just everyday life.
MindBodyGreen.com says that someone experiencing brain fog due to adrenal fatigue syndrome will begin to forget even the most basic things and will constantly be in a state of confusion which will lead to a decrease in their productivity or even a potentially serious accident.