Adrenal fatigue is a group of related signs and symptoms (a syndrome) that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia. As the name suggests, its chief symptom is fatigue unrelieved by sleep. However, adrenal fatigue is not a readily identifiable entity like a sprained ankle. You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of unwellness, tiredness or “gray” feelings. People experiencing adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, colas and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.
Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc with your life. In the more serious cases, the activity of the adrenal glands is so diminished that you may have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours per day. With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive. Many other alterations take place at the biochemical and cellular levels in response to, and to compensate for, the decrease in adrenal hormones that occurs with adrenal fatigue. Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.
This syndrome has been known by many other names throughout the past century, such as non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, sub-clinical hypoadrenia, neurasthenia, adrenal neurasthenia, adrenal apathy and adrenal fatigue. Although it affects millions of people in the U.S. and around the world, it is generally dismissed by conventional medicine.
There is considerable information throughout the website about many aspects of adrenal fatigue. For a comprehensive explanation of how stress and adrenal fatigue affect your health and what you can do about it, see Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James L. Wilson.