Adrenal Stress & Adrenal Fatigue

Did you know that stress alone can be causing many seeming unrelated problems?  Stress can cause digestive issues, contribute to allergies, cause your memory to fade, cause you to lose sleep or develop chronic insomnia?

In today’s society, we are inundated with stress, and this stress doesn’t let up.  Sure, our bodies were designed to handle a certain amount, but they can’t handle the constant demands piled on us today.  This puts our adrenal glands at risk!

Think about yourself, and the people all around you.  Everyone has been under chronic stress of some type for YEARS, maybe decades.  Symptoms of stress include memory loss, anxiety, inability to sleep, an irregular or deceased appetite, digestion problems, energy swings, irritability, low sex drive–the list goes on and on.

Everyone has stress, we always have; our bodies are built to handle it.  However, that’s only half the picture; there is some fine print: we’re only designed to handle short-term stress. If the stress continues, that’s when the trouble starts.

When your brain first senses stress, it tells your adrenal glands to work harder to make more cortisol, our “stress hormone”.  This creates symptoms in the first list.  After months, or years of working too hard, the adrenal glands get tired and worn out; which then create symptoms from the second list.

Do you see yourself in this list?
  • Can’t fall asleep; insomnia
  • “Second wind” at night (“night owl)
  • Sweat easily
  • Excessive sweating, even with little or no activity
  • Weight gain under stress
  • Wake up tired even after 6 or more hours of sleep
  • Crave sweet foods
  • Weight gain around the lower abdomen
  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Low sex drive

If any of these sound familiar, your adrenals may be functioning too high.

Eventually, your adrenal glands start to wear out, and you start to feel the symptoms in THIS list:
  • Slow starter in the morning
  • Low energy during the first half of the day
  • Low appetite or nausea in the morning
  • Crave salty foods
  • Need coffee or high-energy drinks to stay awake and alert
  • Difficulty bouncing back from illness
  • Shaky or agitated between meals
  • Difficulty staying asleep through the night
  • Light-headed when standing up
  • Afternoon fatigue
  • Feel best in the evening
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Afternoon headaches
  • Even lower sex drive

If anything in this list rings true, you may be in one of the several stages of adrenal fatigue, burnout, or approaching failure.

If you have symptoms from both lists, your adrenals may have been functioning too high for a while, and may now be starting to fatigue.

7 Stages of Adrenal Dysfunction:

Many websites talk about two or three stages of Adrenal Dysfunction (usually alarm, adaptation, and then fatigue), but there are actually 7 distinct stages:

Normal Response Stage:  This is part of a normal response to short-term stress.  Both major adrenal hormones are elevated, because the adrenal glands are more active overall. This stage is not a problem.

Excess Cortisol Stage:  If stress persists, the adrenal glands start prioritizing the production of their hormones, stealing more of the hormone building blocks from the available pool in order to make more cortisol.  These are the “night owls”.  They may start to gain a few pounds.

Extreme Cortisol Stage:  If stress doesn’t let up, the adrenal glands produce even MORE cortisol; this time, stealing building blocks from OTHER available pools.  This starts affecting ALL hormones.  At this point, getting to sleep is nearly impossible; these people pull all-nighters and yet they still last through the next day.  They also may develop some more serious imbalances in hormone levels and/or the digestive tract.  They may gain a little more weight.

Fatigue Stage 1:  At this point, the adrenal glands are starting to get tired.  These people have been under too much stress for too long and have run themselves ragged, and now they’re in the early stages of burnout.  They start to find it harder and harder to get up in the morning, and they rely more and more on stimulants like caffeine.  This is usually the stage in which someone decides to seek help in our office.

Fatigue Stage 2:  This is a more advanced version of Stage 4; at this point, not only is it nearly impossible to get going in the morning, but it’s also tough to sleep through the night as well.  Often, these people wake up feeling slightly “blah”, even nauseated.  These people are almost literally “running on empty”.  If they haven’t sought help yet, they’ll usually end up in our office at this stage.

Last Gasp Stage:  This is sort of a “last gasp”, an odd-ball attempt to compensate and void flat-out adrenal failure.  The adrenal glands go all out; since they can barely produce stress hormone anymore, they try to boost levels of the other major adrenal hormone, DHEA in a last-ditch attempt to stay alive.

Adrenal Fatigue/Failure:  If that doesn’t work, the adrenal glands pretty much fail.  Luckily, people seek help before they get to this point, so we hardly ever see this stage.

Adrenal stress (high cortisol) and adrenal fatigue (low cortisol) are very common; in fact, practically no one has normal adrenal function these days.  However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s normal or no big deal!

Adrenal dysfunction leads to, or is strongly linked to:
  • Poor brain function
  • Osteoporosis
  • Infertility, irregular periods, and other hormone imbalances
  • Lower abdominal weight gain
  • “Moon face”, puffiness
  • Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and Diabetes Type 2
  • Food/environmental allergy/sensitivity development
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Problems with memory and learning
  • Mood changes

Our Functional Medicine program is an excellent place to start.

Dr. Lara Sweeney has extensive education and experience, including her own personal battle with adrenal dysfunction; she knows firsthand, how to properly recognize and address it effectively.  She uses research-driven science-based Functional Medicine protocols, including healthy dietary modification, specific supplementation appropriate for your individual stage of adrenal dysfunction, and stress reduction techniques to help address the underlying factors that cause adrenal problems.

While working with Dr. Sweeney, you’ll learn:
  • How to restore your energy, your immune resistance, and your vitality, and start enjoying life again!
  • How to lower your risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, and inflammation
  • Why your blood sugar is out of whack
  • Why you can’t think clearly or remember things
  • Why you can’t lose weight
  • How much exercise is too much
  • How unrelated underlying causes can keep driving your adrenal glands, despite eating well and “doing everything right” – this is the part everybody misses!  Adrenal function will ONLY be successfully resolved if other issues are brought under control FIRST.
  • Which supplements will actually help, which won’t do any good, and which ones may even make the problem worse!

Together, we can get down to the bottom of the REAL nature of multiple health issues and address the real culprit without medication!

We Offer the Following Services

Doctors of Chiropractic – often referred to as chiropractors or chiropractic physicians – practice a drug-free, hands-on approach to health care that includes patient examination, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors have broad diagnostic skills and are also trained to recommend therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.

Here is a brief overview of the array of specialized services offered by our clinic. Please take some time, and explore what we have to offer.

Chiropractic Manipulation San Antonio
Functional Integrative Medicine San Antonio
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Meet Our Team
Dr. Lara Sweeney, DC
Dr. J. Lara Sweeney, DC IFMCP

Dr. Lara Sweeney has an impressive array of training, education, and certification. More ...

Dr. Jay Sweeney, DC
Dr. Jay Sweeney, DC DABCA

Dr. Jay Sweeney has an impressive array of training, education, and certification. More ...

Michelle Anderson
Michelle Anderson, LMT

Michelle has over 19 years massage & soft-tissue experience & is versed in a wide range of techniques More ...

Amanda Hughes
Amanda Hughes

Amanda is our "Go-to" person for all things "food"; whatever you might need from the world of diet and nutrition, she is eager to help.

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Our building “The Pavilions at Castle Hills”, is located at the corner of NW Military Hwy. and Sunflower in Castle Hills. It’s a two-story brown brick building; “First Serve Tennis”, “Bicycle Heaven”, and “Hearing Aid Labs” occupy the front. Our office is located on the second floor, on the back side of the building. Plenty of parking is available in both the front and rear lots. There are stairways located at either end of the building; and for your convenience, there is an elevator located on the back side of the building, at the end of the south tunnel.