Adrenal fatigue is a group of signs and symptoms know as a syndrome, resulting in the adrenal glands not being able to function properly. The term adrenal fatigue is used to describe poorly functioning adrenal glands in athletes/people. Adrenal fatigue usually flares up when an athlete/person is experiencing bouts of mental, physical and/or emotional stress.
The signs of adrenal fatigue are not always obvious as they are for chicken pox or a growth. Anyone can have adrenal fatigue but show no outward signs; you can look fine from the outside but inside you will generally feel unwell, tired and rundown.
If adrenal fatigue goes untreated it can become very serious to the point where you may even struggle to get yourself out of bed in the morning as your adrenal glands have become diminished. When your adrenal glands become diminished this can have a catastrophic effect on the rest of your body as it begins to affect all of your other bodily functions. When these changes start to happen within your bodily functions (organs/systems) your metabolism, fluid/electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even your sex drive, can be affected quite dramatically. Cellular and biochemical changes also start to take place to help compensate for the decrease in adrenal hormones being produced.
Your adrenal glands sit above your kidneys making a pyramid shape and they are no bigger than a walnut. Although your adrenal glands are small they are very powerful endocrine glands which make and secrete the steroid hormones cortisol, oestrogen and testosterone. In order for your body to maintain homeostasis all of these hormones must function efficiently together. The main purpose of these hormones is to help your body to cope with and react to stress.
Cortisol and Adrenal Function
The cortisol produced within our bodies is a life sustaining adrenal hormone which is essential in helping the body with homeostasis. Cortisol is often known as the “stress” hormone as it regulates and modulates many changes that occur in the body in response to a stress or stresses put upon it.
Where possible it is advisable to try to keep your cortisol levels as regulated as possible, especially if you are taking part in a lot of sport. If your cortisol levels become unbalanced then this can lead to the onset of adrenal fatigue, every athlete’s nightmare.
Signs of Adrenal Fatigue
* Brain fog * Cloudy head
* Mild depression * Low thyroid function
* Fatigue * Blood sugar imbalances
* Sleep disturbances * Low immune function
* Irritability * Bloated feeding
* Feeling full and not hungry
How to prevent Adrenal Fatigue
Take rest – Make sure that you set aside a few rest days within your training programme. It is important to make sure that you also rest from work as well as the gym, so make sure you have scheduled holidays in place.
Sleep – Make sure that you try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
Diet – Make sure that you are eating a balanced diet trying not to over eat on carbs and make sure you are getting lots of good sources of fats from avocado and nuts.
Lay off stimulants – Lay off caffeine if you are finding this is the only way you are able to function throughout the day. You should not be reliant on a caffeinated drink to be able to get your body moving and functioning.