Adrenal insufficiency and adrenal fatigue sap the strength of those who suffer from these debilitating conditions. An untold number of Americans suffer from adrenal insufficiency and adrenal fatigue because both these conditions are elusive and difficult to diagnose. Once a practitioner can make a diagnosis of either adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue, however, treatment is relatively simple with hormone replacement therapy. One adrenal gland sits on top of each kidney. Each adrenal gland has two layers, the cortex and the medulla, and each has different functions. The adrenal medulla produces non-essential hormones, including adrenaline that helps the body respond to stress. The cortex is the outer layer of the adrenal gland. It produces hormones essential to life, including aldosterone and cortisol. Aldosterone helps to control blood pressure. Cortisol regulates metabolism and helps the body respond to stress. Cortisol also maintains healthy blood pressure and heart function, balances insulin to control blood glucose, inhibits the immune system’s inflammation response, and regulates metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. The normal level of cortisol is from six to 23 mcg/dL. Practitioners should take care to always measure cortisol levels at the beginning of the day, as cortisol levels tend to fluctuate throughout the day. Some medical conditions can negatively affect the ability of the adrenal gland to produce cortisol. Abnormalities of the pituitary or adrenal gland, for example, can suppress plasma cortisol levels. Significant deficits of the hormone require cortisol replacement therapy.
What is Adrenal Insufficiency and How Does it Affect the Body?
Adrenal insufficiency is a serious medical problem characterized by shrinkage and atrophy of the individual adrenal glands sitting on top of each kidney. In patients with adrenal insufficiency, the adrenal cortex does not produce enough cortisol for proper body function. Sub-therapeutic levels of cortisol cause a serious and sometimes fatal adrenal crisis. Symptoms of an adrenal crisis include abdominal pain, severe sweating, profound weakness, low blood pressure and orthostatic hypotension, rapid pulse, vomiting, headache and sometimes loss of consciousness. Without professional medical assistance, the patient may die.
Adrenal Fatigue is a Result of Poor Lifestyle Choices
The modern lifestyle of the average American lends itself to adrenal fatigue. Employment pressures, the pressure of unemployment, traffic jams, rocky economies and tumultuous world events ratchet up stress levels in even the most relaxed person. This unrelenting stress puts continuous demand on the adrenal glands to pump out cortisol until the glands become exhausted and simply stop working. Adrenal fatigue is a collection of non-specific symptoms including fatigue, body aches, sleep problems, nervousness, and digestive troubles. Adrenal fatigue is a mild form of adrenal insufficiency, usually brought about by chronic stress that taxes the adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion. When adrenal glands are unable to keep up with the perpetual fight-or-flight response, cortisol levels plummet. The primary symptom of adrenal fatigue is overwhelming feelings of tiredness. Some patients say they feel just as tired when they wake up as when they went to bed. Others complain of trouble getting out of bed each morning. Most say they have trouble thinking clearly or finishing tasks because of a constant fuzzy, tired feeling, even after sleeping for six to ten hours each night. Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue include difficulty recovering from illnesses and cravings for sweet or salty foods. Patients may also feel more alert and awake in the evenings than they do all day. One of the greatest challenges to diagnosing adrenal fatigue is that it is hard to detect with conventional diagnostic testing, even when the patient experiences potent symptoms. Blood tests are not sensitive enough to detect the drop in cortisol and the adrenal glands do not show signs of atrophy in adrenal fatigue. Persistent symptoms unsupported by clinical evidence combine to create a condition that is frustrating to both patient and practitioner, especially when no diagnosis can fully account for the fatigue the patient feels. This is true for both adrenal fatigue and its more serious counterpart, adrenal insufficiency. While adrenal fatigue is not life threatening, it can have debilitating and life-altering consequences for those who suffer from it.
Treatment for Adrenal Insufficiency and Adrenal Fatigue
Fortunately, there is a safe and effective treatment for both adrenal insufficiency and adrenal fatigue – hormone replacement therapy with cortisol. This treatment restores cortisol to therapeutic levels without taxing the already overworked adrenal glands. With proper cortisol replacement therapy, most patients can live normal and energetic lives once again. Patients concerned about adrenal fatigue or insufficiency should consult with a physician. Clinicians should dose cortisol carefully, depending on the individual needs of the patient. The prescribing clinician can always rely on Great Earth Compounding Company to provide the right dosage of cortisol for every patient suffering from adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue. The following adrenal supplements are available from Great Earth Compounding Pharmacy’s online store:
- Innate Adrenal Response
- Gaia Adrenal Support
- Adrenogen and Adreset by Metagenics
- Coritco B5B6 by Metagenics
Patients: Call us today to get your hormone and cortisol levels tested. Please discuss hormone replacement therapy with your physician, or contact us with your physician’s name and contact information, and we can supply him or her with additional information.
Doctors: Contact us today to speak with our pharmacists to discuss other combinations that may be available to improve your patient’s symptoms and increase medication compliance. Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Great Earth Compounding Pharmacy and a clickable link back to this page.