The adrenal glands are triangular-shaped glands located on top of each kidney. Known as the body’s “shock absorbers,” they secrete the hormones cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). These hormones play a major role in the body’s response to stress, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), excitement, and tolerance for exercise.
Cortisol is sometimes called the “stress hormone.” Under normal circumstances, the adrenal glands secrete the highest amount of cortisol within the first hours of waking and production slowly declines as the day progresses.
Adrenal fatigue is an unfortunately common condition among men. The main culprits are high levels of stress many men experience in daily life. When a man is experiencing stress, his adrenal glands respond by increasing production of cortisol. This provokes a physiological response, including narrowed blood vessels, increased heart rate, and increased perspiration rate. In a world defined by acute, short-term threats, this is a valuable reaction that helps people respond to stress better. However, in today’s world of chronic, low-grade stress, the long-term effects of high cortisol levels and adrenal stimulation can be devastating.
The adrenal glands were never designed to be continuously producing high levels of cortisol. After time, they become worn out, or exhausted, and can no longer produce sufficient cortisol and other adrenal hormones like DHEA. This leads to a general hormone imbalance that can affects levels of virtually every other hormone and result in a serious decline in quality of life.
Studies have shown that adrenal fatigue among men can lead to increased risk of heart disease, infection, muscle wasting, and other conditions. Men suffering from adrenal fatigue experience a decrease in their overall sense of well-being, and many rely on caffeine and other stimulants to keep themselves going.
Aside from ongoing daily stress, adrenal fatigue can also result from poor diet, substance abuse, chronic illness, inadequate sleep and rest, and imbalance of hormones in the body.
Low cortisol and DHEA levels due to adrenal fatigue may cause many unpleasant symptoms, including:
The first step in restoring healthy adrenal function is to make lifestyle changes. This means managing your stress levels, getting adequate sleep, and eating a balanced and healthy diet with plenty of protein and healthy fats. Exercise is also critical to adrenal health, especially low-impact, stress-relieving exercises like yoga or walking. Other stress reduction techniques include meditation, massage, and pursuing recreational activities. Finally, you should have your blood tested to identify any nutrient deficiencies, such as vitamin D deficiency, and correct those with dietary supplements. Even with all these changes, it can take up to a year for your adrenal glands to recover fully.
In addition to lifestyle changes, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) may provide relief from symptoms of adrenal fatigue and help restore overall hormone balance. Genemedics Health Institute is a national leader in BHRT programs. Our staff of highly trained physicians is expert in diagnosing and treating adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalance. Some of the benefits our patients experience include:
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