As we evolved as a species, we kept one of the traits that helped keep us alive very early on in our existence. This is of course back when we were battling dinosaurs; just around the time fire was discovered. It was called the “flight or fight syndrome,” and if we didn’t want to hang around and fight off those gnarly beasts, we took flight to save our lives.
Today, that inherited genetic trait is still with us, and while it has nothing whatsoever to do with dinosaurs, we still use our “flight or fight” instincts. The technical term that is behind this instinct is cortisol, the stress induced chemical hormone released by our adrenal glands whenever we’re confronted with major stressful situations.
Male Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
But what happens when too much cortisol gets released? We start experiencing a variety of symptoms that may include mid-day fatigue, problems falling asleep, anxiety attacks, a weakened immune system, depression, joint pain, decreased passion, and a loss of muscle mass, for instance.
That’s what happens with adrenal fatigue syndrome. Today, stress isn’t the only trigger; it could also be due to excitement, low blood sugar, over exercising, lack of sleep and other stimuli. Anytime stress becomes chronic is when adrenal fatigue can come into play. As the body works to produce cortisol to manage stressful situations, the adrenal glands aren’t able to produce other needed hormones. And your body and hormone levels get out of synch.
There are actually four stages of adrenal fatigue. The first is alarm reaction – when your body recognizes the flight or fight situation. The second stage is resistance response, but now you recognize that you’re fatigued and you need a lot more rest than you normally do. The third stage is adrenal exhaustion, where your adrenal glands can’t keep up with the needed amount of cortisol. The body gets weak, and the symptoms begin to appear.
The fourth stage is adrenal failure, when your adrenal glands ultimately become exhausted. If untreated, you risk cardiovascular collapse and even death. It’s a crisis, and is hard to diagnose with standard blood tests. You may have extreme, sudden pain in your back, stomach, legs or other parts of your body, along with severe vomiting and even a loss of consciousness.
Normally, just prior to the fourth stage of adrenal failure, your body will experience a “near failure,” with enough symptoms to force you to seek immediate help from a physician. This is key, because it is so difficult to properly diagnose adrenal failure, having this stage happen gives doctors a chance to get at the root of the problem.
One of the ways to treat adrenal exhaustion and adrenal failure is with steroids. The only problem is that more and more of this potent medication is required to keep your energy level sustained, and treat the problem. Steroids come with their own set of side effects and can cause some serious damage to your body, so constant treatment with steroids is not advisable.
So what is the preferred treatment for male adrenal fatigue syndrome?
What is needed is a targeted, customized and integrated treatment regimen managed by a physician. This integrated treatment plan begins with comprehensive lab work in order to determine your cortisol levels. The lab results will guide the actual treatment plan.
The next phase in treatment often includes hormone replacement therapy for men (HRT), along with a customized high-quality regimen of supplements. Once the adrenal fatigue is controlled and adrenal function returns to normal levels, a diet that eliminates hydrogenated fats, excessive caffeine, refined carbs, alcohol and sugars should be implemented. Instead, men should eat a healthy diet that includes quality protein and foods that contain high nutritional value.
Getting plenty of quality, uninterrupted sleep is another part of the treatment. Sleep gives your adrenal glands an opportunity to repair themselves and reverse the damage that was already done. Finally, learning how to manage daily stress is another key component of your integrated treatment plan. The last thing you want to do is repeat the syndrome all over again by having stress as the trigger to adrenal fatigue. Breathing exercises, meditation, exercise and visualization are all ways to combat and manage stress.
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