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5 Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms You May Not Realize You Have

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More and more people are suffering from stress-related conditions these days, I for one have been one of those people. Maybe you can even relate to my story I shared last night and are starting to wonder if you too have adrenal fatigue symptoms.

Today and the rest of this week I want to share with you the research I found when trying to figure out what was wrong with me.




The negative impact of stress can affect many areas of health. One area in particular that can be adversely affected is the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are located near the kidneys and produce the hormones that are needed for the body to function properly.

Stress adversely affects these glands because, when the body is under severe stress the glands start producing more hormones to help the body cope (this is the classic ‘fight or flight’ response). The main hormone is cortisol, which regulates metabolism and is a response to stress.

Of course, in some circumstances a stress response is needed, however, when stress is experienced over a long period of time, these glands weaken and this negatively affects the body and results in adrenal fatigue. So, here are 5 adrenal fatigue symptoms you may not even realize you have.


5 Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms


1. Excessive, unexplained tiredness

Adrenal fatigue makes a person very tired, but you may think of it as not getting enough sleep like I did instead of being one of the adrenal fatigue symptoms. This is because under stress the hormone levels are elevated, thus making it harder to sleep.

Over time, the body’s cortisol levels are affected and this leads to the body being in an almost permanent state of alertness. All of this can affect the ability of a person to fall asleep or get a good night’s sleep. It could be that a person thinks he is getting enough sleep (the recommended 8 to 10 hours) but still wakes up feeling tired and fatigued.


2. Cravings for salty or sugary foods

One way that adrenal fatigue affects the body is to lower the blood sugar level. When this happens cravings for energy foods increase and therefore a sufferer will eat more sugary foods. Foods high in sugar are also comfort foods and stress can cause a person to eat more sugary foods.

Adrenal fatigue can also result in cravings for salty foods. This is because the adrenal glands affect how the kidneys regulate mineral fluctuations. When we suffer from fatigue, the body releases more minerals when we pee.

This can increase the desire for salty snacks to fill that loss. Cravings are not always a sign of adrenal fatigue symptoms but coupled with a few of the others it definitely can be.


Mom exhausted and frustrated sitting in her living room with toys strung everywhere. She was experiencing adrenal fatigue symptoms and didn't realize it.

3. Roller coaster ride of energy with heightened energy late at night

I know this one all to well. So I would wake up tired, because I didn’t get good quality sleep and I felt like I just couldn’t function without plenty of caffeine. Usually, cortisol reaches a peak in the late morning so I’d have a spurt of energy around 10-11 am followed by that  crash in the mid-afternoon.

It starts to rise again in the evening around 6-7 pm. Just in time to get dinner on the table.  I would start to feel sleepy around 9, but that was too early to go to bed so I would push through. Then about 11 pm I would really get this burst of energy. I always just put this off as being a night owl and that I got more work done at night, but I was wrong.


4. Difficulty in handling stress

The normal body’s response to stress is to release specific hormones so that stress can be handled effectively. The three specific hormones are cortisol, adrenaline,  norepinephrine, and knowing how these affect the body helps us understand the relationship to stress.


a. Cortisol

Gives the body extra energy to cope with the stress, it increases memory function and lowers sensitivity to pain. However, the body needs a rest period after cortisol has been released in a stress-related situation. If a person is suffering, from adrenal fatigue rarely do they get to have that ‘rest period’, and over time less and less cortisol is produced.

b. Adrenaline

Probably the most well-known stress response hormone. This gives us the initial burst of energy needed to respond to stress. Once again, adrenal fatigue will affect the amount of this hormone and therefore the response to stress is reduced.

c. Norepinephrine

This hormone helps the brain to focus on the stress. Without this active hormone, the response to stress could be described as brain fog.

Chronic stress is not only one of the adrenal fatigue symptoms, but it is also a cause.


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5. More infections

Cortisol helps to regulate the immune system in the body and cortisol works as an anti-inflammatory. Too much cortisol over an extended period of time hinders the response of the immune system. This results in having more infections.

On the other hand, if the adrenal glands are so weakened that they produce too little cortisol then the body’s response is to overreact to infections. This resulting in certain autoimmune disorders.


While very important pieces of this medical puzzle are still missing, there are 5 adrenal fatigue symptoms that most people seem to experience. These are excessive unexplained tiredness, cravings of sweet and/or salty foods, an energy rollercoaster ride with extra boost late at night, stress, and lowered immune system.

Do you have one or more of these symptoms? I’m going to be sharing more information and tips on how to deal with adrenal fatigue throughout the week. If this information was valuable to you please give me some love. If you know someone that would benefit from hearing this you are welcome to share it.

Here are the links to the rest of the series on Adrenal Fatigue:

#1 Adrenal Fatigue,  Stress, Weight Loss  and Leaving Beachbody

#2 5 Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms You May Not Realize You Have

#3 Adrenal Fatigue Diet Changes for a Better Quality of Life

#4 8 Adrenal Fatigue Supplements that Changed My Life

#5 How to Treat Adrenal Fatigue with Self Care


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Here is a recording of a Facebook Live I did on this blog in case you would rather listen than read (also feel free to connect with me on Facebook here: Shannah Scherer Holt



Woman passed out asleep due to adrenal fatigue symptoms causing her to feel so exhausted.



10 Responses to 5 Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms You May Not Realize You Have

  1. Ashvini Naik says:

    This is such an insightful post, Shannah!

    Many of us take to emotional eating & feel crushed under dollops of daily stress, which may be serious adrenaline fatigue.symptoms. I specially liked how you’ve explained the ‘late night activity’ lifestyle triggering worse symptoms of the same.

  2. Beth says:

    Interesting read. I just recently got diagnosed with RA and outside of the inflammation of my joints, I have most of these symptoms as well.

  3. Blair says:

    This seems like a frustrating ordeal. I personally know what it’s like to deal with chronic injury. Try to stay positive, find the joy in your day.

  4. Alisa Infanti says:

    Wow this article is timely. I clearly had no what was going on with me but you nailed it… Adrenal Fatigue. Now I just need you to write an article to tell me what to do to get out of it. So helpful!

  5. Amanda says:

    Good info in this post! Thanks for sharing! I don’t believe I have all these symptoms, but I can relate to difficulties sleeping. That used to be a major problem for me, so I know it’s frustrating!

  6. PS Sc says:

    I also get tired very soon. I don’t know exactly what is the problem with me. I feel very tired most of the time and don’t have much energy to be used. Reason i don’t want to consult doctor because they always tried to give me lots of medicine list which i don’t want to eat. This post helps me a lot.Thank you for sharing this amazing article.

  7. Sheereen says:

    I definitely have some of these symptoms. Very informative read!

  8. So many good tips here. I know I don’t get nearly enough sleep – it’s a constant battle. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Dana says:

    Interesting blog post. I have some of these symptoms but brushed it off as mom life. I definitely will be bringing this up at my next doctors visit!

  10. Holly says:

    This is so interesting. I didn’t even know this was something I needed to think about. Thanks for the info!