Adrenal fatigue, also called adrenal exhaustion or hypoadrenia, is a controversial illness resulting from decreased function of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are located right above the kidneys and secrete hormones controlling stress and energy, among other physical functions. In general, mainstream medicine does not currently recognize it as a valid condition, though individual doctors might make such a diagnosis. Adrenal fatigue is a syndrome, meaning that it consists of a collection of symptoms, each of which may or may not affect a particular patient.
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include reduced energy and ability to handle stress, allergies, anxiety, fatigue, depression, obesity, muscle and joint pain, carbohydrate cravings, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Those who believe that adrenal fatigue is a real condition theorize that it results from chronic stress in one's everyday life that makes the adrenal glands work overtime, eventually leading to decreased function. Detractors claim that the alleged symptoms are vague and that a high level of daily stress is unlikely to affect the adrenal glands in this manner.
Practitioners of alternative medicine believe that sufferers of this type of fatigue can fully recover with treatment and stress management. Removing whatever life stresses that one can is considered the most important step towards recovery. Getting extra sleep at night, up to ten hours if possible, also allows the adrenal glands to recover. Melatonin should be used for those who have trouble falling and staying asleep. A person who suffers from adrenal fatigue should increase exercise and decrease caffeine consumption and time spent each day watching television or using a computer. If you are feeling overly stressed and exhausted, all of the above is good advice whether or not you believe this condition is for real.
Following a healthy diet, eating meals at regular times and earlier in the day, and taking dietary supplements to ensure one's intake of a balance of vitamins and minerals is also important in managing the condition. In extreme cases, natural hydrocortisone supplements may be prescribed by a health professional. The treatment guidelines for this condition have helped many people who have had limited or no success seeking relief from traditional medicine. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or a guide towards diagnosis, so if you believe stress is having an adverse effect on your health or you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue, discuss your symptoms with your doctor.