What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Stress is one of the biggest scourges in men's health; adrenal fatigue syndrome and stress go hand-in-hand. The adrenal glands, which are two triangle-shaped glands found above the kidneys, are responsible for regulating a man's reaction to stress (aka the "fight or flight" response). Like many other age-related problems, adrenal fatigue is the result of an imbalance in hormone levels. The chief adrenal hormone used to manage stress is cortisol (earning it the nickname "stress hormone"). The adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to stress, low blood sugar, excitement, and during exercise. Under normal circumstances, the adrenal glands secrete the highest amount of cortisol within the first hours of waking and slowly decrease production as the day progresses. When stress is not properly managed or when it becomes extreme, the ability for the adrenal glands to function optimally is compromised. When stress levels remain consistently high for extended periods of time, that is a condition known as chronic stress. Chronic stress can force the body to over-exert itself to produce cortisol and neglect other hormones, causing adrenal fatigue and a host of problems that arise from the ensuing hormonal imbalance. While chronic stress will initially lead to consistently high cortisol levels, cortisol production will eventually drop again as adrenal fatigue sets in.
How do Men get Adrenal Fatigue?
If a man's stress level remains excessive for a prolonged length of time (chronic stress), the adrenal glands respond by producing the adrenal hormone cortisol continually. This over-exertion taxes the adrenal glands to the point where the glands are unable to produce the necessary levels of cortisol to keep up with the demand; and subsequently these drastically diminished levels of cortisol eventually lead to adrenal fatigue in men. This hormonal imbalance-induced fatigue affects all other hormones in the body, producing a chain-like reaction. While attempting to maintain high cortisol production to manage the chronic stress levels, the adrenal glands are unable to maintain the production of other necessary hormones. One such hormone is DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone. DHEA is vital to maintaining the balance of hormones in your body, and low amounts of this important hormone contribute to adrenal fatigue symptoms in men.
There is also a condition known as Cushing's syndrome that, while rare, can lead to high levels of cortisol and, therefore, adrenal fatigue.
Male Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms Include:
- Mid-day fatigue or low energy
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Emerging allergies
- Sensitivity to chemicals
- Increased susceptibility to infections
- Reduced stress tolerance
- Weakened immune function
- Inability to get a good night's sleep
- Aching joints
- Diminished sex drive
- A tendency to feel cold (many individuals and doctors often misdiagnose hypothyroidism)
- Craving for sweet and salty foods
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
- Weight gain
- Decreased insulin production (which affects blood glucose levels)
Diagnosing Adrenal Fatigue
If you find yourself suffering from any combination of the above symptoms, you may find it necessary to gain an assessment of your cortisol levels. Since cortisol levels rise and fall throughout the day, many medical professionals have found urine level testing to be the most effective way to evaluate levels of cortisol. Urine level testing allows for patients to provide 5 samples each day. Providing that many samples makes the results of the test more accurate because they can account for natural cortisol fluctuations.
Adrenal Fatigue Treatment for Men
The bioidentical hormone practitioners of the BodyLogicMD network have successfully helped men suffering from adrenal fatigue with comprehensive, customized treatment plans. The first step in treating adrenal fatigue is complete comprehensive lab testing to determine cortisol levels. Adding bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and a targeted, high-quality supplement regimen are often the next steps.
To maintain healthy adrenal function, men should avoid hydrogenated fats, excessive caffeine, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and sugar. Instead, men should eat a diet that includes quality protein with regular meals of high nutritional value. There are even some cortisol-reducing foods that would make for a great adrenal fatigue diet. These foods include bananas, pears, water, dark chocolate, and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt. Getting eight hours of sleep every night is also essential to give the adrenals an opportunity to repair. Furthermore, taking time to evaluate daily and situational stressors and practice stress management with deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can be a very beneficial in addition to your customized regimen.
Men no longer need to suffer the symptoms of adrenal fatigue; many patients have found the best solution to be an integrated approach that utilizes advanced therapies, such as bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and strategic lifestyle changes like a balanced nutrition and stress management.
There are also supplements (namely those that contain adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola rosea, Siberian ginseng, and Schisandra) that are known to reduce cortisol levels. Adreset, Pure Resilience, and Pure Calm are just some of the supplements in our shop that are designed to help with adrenal fatigue and other stress-related problems. While you're in there, take a look at how you can combine our different supplements into convenient daily pill packs.
Contact your local BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioner today to restore the balance to your hormones and start feeling your best again!