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Adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism

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Out of a million people suffering from thyroid conditions, most of them are more prone to develop adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is a condition that makes the adrenal glands very weak due to a number of reasons.

Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and have a very vital role to play within the body. The glands release hormones into the bloodstream that help regulate digestion, immune response, blood sugar, electrolyte balance, blood pressure, etc. But most importantly, the adrenal gland is known for producing adrenaline and managing your fight-or-flight response.

But sometimes, the adrenal glands malfunction, therefore leading to an over-production of the stress hormone called cortisol (Cushing’s disease) or not enough hormones (adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease).

But, expert physicians can identify yet another type of adrenal condition, which is called adrenal fatigue. A condition is termed as adrenal fatigue when the concerned person is under a lot of stress, which results in the adrenal glands not being able to keep up with the body’s demands for hormones.

Impact of chronic stress on the thyroid function

  1. Reduced T4 to T4 conversion

Stress hormones affect the enzymes that convert T4 to T3. There is also Free T3 (FT3), which is an active form of the hormone, and Reverse T3 (RT3), which is an inactive form. When the stress is high, T3 gets converted into RT3 instead of FT3. Such imbalance puts a brake on the normal functioning of the body and slows down the metabolic process, thus causing symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  1. Thyroid hormone resistance

As a response to stress, cytokines are also released. These inflammatory immune cells make the thyroid receptors less sensitive to the thyroid hormone. This implies that even if you are taking thyroid medication and the thyroid hormone levels come back to normal, you could still be suffering from underlying thyroid symptoms.

  1. Suppressed immune system

When the body is in stress mode, the immune system is suppressed, partly because the body is fully focused on overcoming the source of the stress and because stress can cause inflammation, thereby slowing down the immune system and preventing a state of chronic inflammation. A suppressed immune system can trigger viral infections, some of which can trigger an autoimmune thyroid disease.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue

  • Difficulty in waking up from sleep in the morning
  • Weight gain because of frequent eating to maintain normal blood sugar
  • More difficulty in dealing stressful pressures, like meeting deadlines, etc.
  • Struggle with ‘poor’ memory
  • Pain in the neck and upper part of the back out of the blue
  • For females, additional symptoms may include fatigue during the menstrual cycle, moodiness, heavy bleeding, etc.

The connection between hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue

The thyroid gland is yet another hormone-producing organ that produces hormones that keep the body operating in optimum conditions. When the thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones, the person may get depressed, forgetful, and tired – all similar to adrenal fatigue symptoms. Some other signs of hypothyroidism include constipation, dry skin, and feeling cold.

Because of the similarities between the symptoms of hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue, most doctors tend to get confused between the two. Additionally, people with hypothyroidism may also have weak adrenal glands, since these two glands work together to supply essential hormones to the body. That means if your body is not producing enough cortisol and you have a thyroid problem as well, the body’s condition might get a lot worse.

How to test for adrenal fatigue

The adrenal function plays a very important role in the effectiveness of the thyroid gland and hormone. Therefore, it is important to know if adrenal fatigue or stress is the underlying problem that is causing the thyroid problems.

It has been seen that many patients with thyroid problems related to adrenal issues are put on a thyroid medication without the support of adrenal. The conditions of the patients worsen and experience a range of symptoms, like shaking hands or a racing heart, because the body is forced into an overdrive mode from the sudden input of thyroid hormones.

Conventional physicians do not normally rely on a blood test to measure the cortisol levels because the stress hormones fluctuate throughout the day and a single test is not enough to produce the results. Hence, most of them use the saliva test or go through the symptom checklist.

How to prevent adrenal fatigue

  • Make time for resting and relaxing; resting sufficiently is good for the well-being of your adrenal glands.
  • Yoga and meditation have been seen as some of the best ways to lower cortisol levels considerably.
  • Consume your nutrients daily, especially magnesium; this nutrient calms and supports the nervous system, and improves sleep.
  • Watch your caffeine intake since it can also contribute to levels of insomnia and anxiety in some people.
  • Consume B-Vitamins as well, since this particular vitamin is vital for maintaining a good adrenal function and health.

Final Thoughts

Making changes in your lifestyle should be enough to avoid stress and, in a way, adrenal fatigue as well. But, you can take supplements if the lifestyle change did not work out. But before taking supplements, you should consult an endocrinologist beforehand since such supplements can be dangerous if you have no reasons for consuming them.

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