The H adrenal glands are paired endocrine glands located on top of each kidney. The glands are triangular and crescent-shaped. Each adrenal gland consists of two layers: cortical and medullary. In the cortex, the hormones cortisol, aldosterone, and a small amount of estrogen and testosterone are synthesized. In the medulla, catecholamines, norepinephrine, and adrenaline are formed.
Cortisol has many important functions. The hormone determines how quickly the body converts fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy. Cortisol is involved in the regulation of blood pressure, cardiovascular function, immune and inflammatory responses. The most significant function of the hormone is the adaptation of the body to stressful influences and situations.
When faced with a threat, an alarm signal is generated in the cerebral cortex that goes to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus synthesizes a hormone that acts on the pituitary gland. The result of the reactions is the stimulation of the adrenal glands and the release of cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream.
Adrenaline increases heart rate increases blood pressure and increases energy expenditure. Cortisol, the main stress hormone, increases blood sugar levels, improves the brain’s use of glucose, and increases the availability of substances that repair tissue.
Cortisol restricts functions that were detrimental in anti-stress responses. It determines the immune response, inhibits the activity of the digestive and reproductive systems, slows down the growth processes. A complex response system works closely with the regions of the brain that control mood, motivation, and fear.
The body’s stress response system is capable of self-restraint. Once the perceived threat wears off, hormone levels return to their previous values. As the level of adrenaline and cortisol decreases, the heart rate and blood pressure reach their original values, the rest of the systems resume their activity.
When the stress factor is constantly present, the body finds itself in conditions of constant stress. The anti-stress response system remains on for a long time.
What is adrenal fatigue?
With a long-term stress factor, the adrenal glands are depleted and maladjustment occurs. In medicine, this condition is called adrenal stress syndrome or adrenal fatigue syndrome. There is a decrease in the production of cortisol, its amount becomes insufficient to maintain normal health.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- autoimmune conditions;
- chronic fatigue (always feeling tired);
- hair loss;
- hormonal imbalance;
- insulin resistance;
- decreased sex drive / libido;
- unstable mood;
- skin problems;
- sleep disorders;
- weight gain;
- cravings for sweet and salty.
Anything that causes strong and prolonged stress leads to adrenal maladjustment. These factors are:
- tense life situation (death of a loved one, divorce, moving);
- chronic diseases;
- chronic stress (financial stress, harmful working conditions, poor family relationships, alcohol abuse);
- unhealthy diet and lack of exercise;
- bad sleep, etc