Adrenal Glands & Adrenal Fatigue: Everything You Need To Know

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What Adrenaline Does

In addition to all the normal day-to-day functions mentioned above, adrenaline also plays a role in helping the body to protect you from a perceived danger, or survive an extremely stressful situation. Stress at work, for instance, will trigger a small increase in adrenaline, probably enough to make you slightly uncomfortable, but not anything serious. That’s because your brain correctly perceives that you aren’t in a dangerous situation. In a truly life-threating scenario, though, you would experience a short-lived, massive release of the hormone called an adrenaline rush.

This is an evolutionary adaptation which occurs in all animals. It triggers the unconscious fight-or-flight response, which helps a living creature fight off an attacker or run away. When this occurs in a human, it’s characterized by an elevation in heartrate and respiration, dilated pupils and raised blood pressure. The person experiencing it will also perceive events differently. The surge in adrenaline causes a feeling of hyperawareness and concentration. Many times, people who survived a life-threatening situation will recall how it felt like things were moving in slow-motion. This sensation is caused by the adrenaline rush. It will also cause a temporary increase in strength and speed to help the individual get away from the danger. It may sound like some kind of superpower from a comic book, but it is in fact just a normal biological response designed to help you survive.

While this physiological response is designed to protect you, it’s only meant to last a few minutes. If it happens too much, it can be quite damaging to the endocrine system and the body as a whole.


What’s the deal with “adrenal fatigue”? Is it a real disease?

This is a topic of debate among many in the medical community. Adrenal fatigue is a supposed condition in which the adrenal glands become “overworked.” It’s characterized by fatigue, body aches, problems with digestion, nervousness and agitation and trouble sleeping. But is it a real disease?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a lot of doctors aren’t convinced, because these are non-specific symptoms and there are many different things that could be causing them. Many of the symptoms above, for instance, can also be caused by an over-dependence on caffeine, which is quite common in modern societies.

There are, however, legitimate disorders of the adrenal glands, such as adrenal insufficiency, otherwise known as Addison’s disease. This occurs when a disease causes the adrenal glands to produce insufficient amounts of adrenaline for the body to function normally.


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Hopefully this helps answer your questions and clears up some misconceptions about this frequently referred to, but often misunderstood, hormone.


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