You may not have realized it but there are small structures that sit on top of both your kidneys. These are called the adrenal glands and they are responsible for releasing a variety of different hormones into your body.
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The main 3 hormones produced by the adrenal glands are:
The most important of these is aldosterone which monitors your salt and water levels. If this hormone isn’t produced, you will lose too much salt and water. The result is dehydration which will increase your blood pressure.
The most important of these is cortisol which is known as your stress hormone. It is released every time you’re in a fight or flight scenario.
But it also regulates your metabolism and helps you to burn fat stores when needed.
3. Adrenal Androgens
These are the male sex hormones and play an important role for all children during puberty as they help to develop the sex organs and body hair; even in girls.
What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
There is no escaping that we live in stressful times. Traffic, your job, running the house and looking after children means that you can spend more of your time stressed than not!
Unfortunately, this can lead to the exhaustion of the adrenal glands as they are overworked. The glands stop producing the essential hormones in order to recover.
When they stop working you are said to have adrenal fatigue. Common symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Muscle loss and weakness
- Low blood pressure
Treating Adrenal Fatigue
The first thing you need to do if you think you have adrenal fatigue is to get a test kit. The test can be done at home and will provide you with an accurate result in minutes.
It is worth noting that diagnosing adrenal fatigue in the early stages is generally very difficult. However, as the fatigue progresses; it will become more obvious and much easier to confirm.
Your doctor will probably want to complete X-rays as well to ensure the cause is adrenal fatigue and not a different issue.
The simplest route for treatment is to give you replacement hormones. Your doctor is likely to prescribe you with hydrocortisone tablets which will replicate the cortisol you are supposed to be producing.
You can also take fludrocortisones acetate to rebuild your mineralocorticoid and you should actually increase your salt intake!
You will need to try several different doses with the effects monitored via blood tests before you find the right combination for you.
If your blood pressure and blood sugar are exceptionally low and you have a lot of potassium in your system, you’ll be given injections of hydrocortisone, dextrose and salt water. The effects should be almost instantaneous.
It is important to note that if you are taking replacement hormones due to adrenal insufficiency you should carry a card to tell others about it. This is important if you are involved in an accident as it will affect the way you are treated.
Have you experienced adrenal fatigue? How have you treated it – with replacement hormones or with supplements?
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