Strange Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

It all starts with a stressful event: a divorce or job loss, for instance. Suddenly, things begin to wobble and topple all around you – missed mortgage payments, sick loved ones, rising food costs, scanty government support, frequent headaches, persistent nausea, and a general feeling of doom and gloom.

Most of us are feeling the brunt of stress right now, but I urge you to take a moment to catch and rehabilitate the body’s “serial killer.” Stress is the primary cause of a host of health problems, including adrenal fatigue syndrome, which is what I’ll be covering in this post.

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome Vs. Adrenal Insufficiency

Unfortunately, a lot of doctors refuse to accept adrenal fatigue syndrome as a real problem and, therefore, will neither diagnose nor attempt to treat the condition. These “bad doctors” often believe it’s a fake disease because symptoms can’t be easily identified on blood tests – as if the investigation isn’t at the very core of medical science.

Adrenal insufficiency is easier to diagnose because it shows up on laboratory tests by way of low or depleted stress-coping hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. Insufficiency means your glands can’t keep up with the demand for hormone production. The cause of this condition is often easy to spot and is usually a problem with the tiny pituitary gland in your brain or the result of direct damage to the adrenal glands. 

Adrenal fatigue syndrome is sneakier because it’s not that your glands can’t or won’t produce enough hormones but that it’s consistently being depleted in a way that causes variable and often confusing symptoms. AFS doesn’t have a definite blood marker, so a lot of doctors say “lower your stress” as a treatment for this problem. Often, people with AFS are left to their own devices for treatment. That’s why it’s crucial to identify your symptoms, and some of them will seem unrelated. 

The Stranger Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

Part of the reason AFS is hard to diagnose is because nobody experiences the same symptoms. No two patients are alike.  The most common (and obvious) symptoms include:

·         Extreme fatigue and never feeling refreshed after sleep

·         Difficulty coping with daily stress or requiring increased effort to perform day-to-day activities

·         Migraines

·         Irritability

·         Sleep disturbances

There are several symptoms that you wouldn’t expect to be associated with chronically high-stress levels. Here are seven of the weirdest symptoms I’ve seen in adrenal fatigue patients over the years:

1.       Brain fog. Do you sometimes feel like you’re trying to think through heavy smoke? Ideas and thoughts seem out of focus. Brain fog is caused by all the symptoms of stress like lack of sleep and hormone changes; it’s also caused by poor diet, overuse of medications, and underlying medical conditions like migraines or hypothyroidism.

2.       Hair loss due to slow production of testosterone and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone).

3.       Depression because of slower production of serotonin, along with dopamine and a few others that affect mood.

4.       Chronic sinus problems or allergy symptoms in the respiratory system. There is no science to explain this phenomenon, but it’s common in many with AFS.

5.       Extreme fluctuations in weight because of cortisol imbalance. Cortisol affects insulin, which in turn affects blood sugars and the ability to burn fat.

6.       Food sensitivities and allergies that come on suddenly.

7.       Diarrhea and constipation because too much or too little cortisol will affect the digestive system and reduce the number of good bacteria in your gut.

There are many more symptoms of adrenal fatigue syndrome; the above are the ones I’ve seen most frequently.  Other strange symptoms that are perhaps a little less common include:

·         Lower body temps

·         Lower blood sugar levels, and more difficulty balancing them out

·         Heart palpitations

·         Thin, dry skin

Life is made up of a series of decisions. You aren’t and will never be stuck in an unhealthy body. Start by approaching the way you think about stress, and work on spinning it to a positive experience. That will take practice, but you can do it. If you’re having a hard day, reach out to me on Facebook or through my website. I’ll help you get back on top of the world, where you belong.


Hormone.Org: Adrenal Fatigue

Jill Carnahan: Signs You Might Have Adrenal Fatigue

Mayo Clinic: Expert Answers on Adrenal Fatigue

Bella Lindemann: Adrenal Fatigue and IBS