According to Dr. James L. Wilson, adrenal fatigue has been one of the most prevalent, but most under-diagnosed conditions in the last fifty years. But as he explains in his book, Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, adrenal fatigue can be overcome and energy restored.”

“Hypoadrenia is a deficiency in the functioning of the adrenal glands. The hormones secreted by the adrenals influence all the major physiological processes.” Typical effects of adrenal dysfunction can include fatigue, bone and muscle loss, depression, immune system suppression, moodiness, depression, hormonal imbalance, skin problems and autoimmune disorders. Other symptoms could include erratic or abnormal blood sugar levels such with hypoglycemia, difficulty with concentration, anxiety and memory recall.

The good news is that adrenal fatigue is treatable. Wilson states, “In most cases, it can be alleviated with natural, safe substances, and in some cases it is totally preventable. What causes adrenal fatigue? Wilson’s book explains that it is usually caused by some form of stress. “Stress can be physical, emotional, psychological, environmental, infectious or a combination of these. The level of the adrenal stress hormone cortisol is a common measure of stress.”

The adrenals are walnut-sized and are situated on top of each kidney. The outer layer is the adrenal cortex which produces the hormones DHEA, cortisol, estrogen and testosterone while the center produces adrenaline. When the adrenals are chronically overworked, the production of DHEA is compromised. This in turn affects the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

“The function of the adrenal glands is to help your body cope with stresses and survive. It is their job to enable your body to deal with every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationship problems. Your resiliency, energy, endurance, and your very life, all depend on their proper functioning.” The basic task of your adrenal glands is to prepare your body for the “fight or flight” mode by releasing the necessary hormones to release the necessary energy.

Unfortunately, today’s life is full of challenges that affect stress. Adrenal fatigue often occurs when the body sustains this state of high level stress response too long and too frequently. When the adrenal glands are constantly sustained at the high cortisol levels, it negatively impacts immune system, muscle, bones, sex drive, cell regeneration, healing, digestion, metabolism and mental function. In short, it’s a deteriorating process of the body’s critical functions.

Stressors such as financial pressures, poor diet habits, difficult relationships, loss of loved ones, additions, care giving responsibilities, caffeine, illness, gastrointestinal problems and unresolved emotional issues create unhealthy cortisol levels.

Adrenal fatigue is a contributing factor to conditions such sleep deprivation, hair loss, premature menopause, arthritis, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and others.

How do you test for adrenal levels? According to Wilson, today there are more physicians recognizing and responding to the early stage symptoms by testing for hormonal imbalances and adrenal health. He stresses much of the work to correct imbalances is done by the patient by being proactive with lifestyle changes. Diet, exercise, supplementation, and stress management coping skills can positively impact adrenal health.

The role of emotional factors should be addressed because these are often the source of the physical influences. Working toward resolving issues with guilt, pain, uncontrolled anger and other destructive habits can be more beneficial than just trying to mitigate the negative effects.

Knowledgeable physicians are testing for hormonal and adrenal dysfunction with saliva tests, blood work and other practices. Bio-identical hormonal replacement for women is an alternative to prescription drugs for hormonal imbalances.

Personally, I have had my hormonal levels checked with my physician, Dr. Maria Arango and was placed on an adrenal support supplement program and a bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. She also did a comprehensive physical evaluation. I have been impressed with the amount of time she devoted to discussing the issues that needed addressing to improve my overall well-being. She is a doctor that truly cares for her patients. The therapy and her recommendations have helped me tremendously. I’m working on my part with lifestyle changes and overall feeling more energetic and healthier. I encourage you to be proactive with your health!

For more information, read Dr. James Wilson’s book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome and other available books. Dr. Maria Arango’s office is located at 5407 S. McColl in Edinburg. She can be reached at 956-994-1912.

Mary Garza Cummings is a free-lance writer. The Town Crier does not warrant the information as valid. It is the responsibility of the reader to ensure validity of the information. If you have questions or comments, email askseniorfocus@aol.com