Many people who know about the adrenal fatigue syndrome and autoimmune disease asks this question: are these two related to each other? The answer, however, is not so plain and simple. While it is true that both adrenal fatigue and autoimmune disease have many things in common, they nevertheless vary from each other in various aspects.
So, today we will try to answer this question in as many details as possible. We will be discussing the basics of autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, what effects they have on the body, and how they are similar/dissimilar to each other. Let us first begin with a brief description of the autoimmune disease, its effects, and what are its similarities/dissimilarities with the adrenal fatigue.
What is Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune disease is a condition in which the body’s immune system starts to attack and kills healthy body tissues as well as the bad ones mistakenly. This condition is a very diverse one as there are over 80 known and verified forms of autoimmune disorders. The blood cells in our immune system serve as our major defense against harmful external intrusions in the body. These include bacteria, toxins, viruses, and cancer cells. All these external intrusions contain harmful antigens. Our immune system produces antibodies to fight and kill these antigens.
However, when a person is suffering from an autoimmune disorder, the immune system fails to differentiate between the harmful and healthy antigens. Thus, a chain reaction sets in which destroys healthy tissues in the body. Despite being studied heavily, the exact cause of the autoimmune disease is still a mystery in medical science. However, researchers largely associate it with certain types of infections, chemical exposure, dietary habits, and genetic heritage.
Some of the most known forms of autoimmune disease-related with adrenal fatigue are as follows:
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – this form of autoimmune disorder is characterized by severe pain and swelling in the joints. Additionally, a butterfly-like rash will appear on the face and the inflammation of mucous membranes will occur.
Sjogren Disease – in this form of autoimmune disease, the patient will suffer from dryness of mouth and eyes. The immune system will mistakenly attack the salivary glands and Nasolacrimal ducts in the eyes.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – this form of autoimmune disease directly attacks and disrupts the thyroid gland, thereby severely disrupting its functions and resulting in hypothyroidism.
Raynaud’s Phenomenon – Raynaud’s Phenomenon is an autoimmune condition in which blood vessels that transfer blood to the fingers are severely contracted. This results in your fingers becoming white and difficult to use in cold or when in stress.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease – also known as Crohn’s disease, this form of autoimmune condition tricks the immune system to attack the lining of the colon, or the large intestine, which results in nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Celiac Disease – this form of autoimmune disease triggers a reaction against gliadin, an essential compound of gluten, which results in the damage of the intestinal linings.
And there are many other forms of autoimmune diseases as well, but the ones we have covered above are mostly related to the similar conditions caused by the disruption in adrenal glands. And moving ahead with this agenda, let us now scrutinize whether autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue are similar or not (despite some crude similarities).
Is Adrenal Fatigue & Autoimmune Disease Similar?
There is no straightforward answer to this question, but we must look at several factors to come to a legit conclusion for this dilemma. For once, there is a wide consensus in medical science about the unknown origin of autoimmune disease. No one can say for sure how and what specific thing tricks our immune system to behave haphazardly. But there is a sure consensus on some of the causes of autoimmune disease that are directly connected to the adrenal fatigue syndrome.
As of now, medical science gave us a clear picture of factors, ranging from genetic heritage, environmental conditions, stress, and infections specific to the immune system. However, what most people do not know that the last two triggers of autoimmune disease are directly controlled by the adrenal glands. Let us take cortisol for example. Cortisol is one of the major hormones in our body which is directly responsible for managing stress levels. During moments of stress or anxiety, the pituitary gland secretes certain hormones that send a signal to adrenal glands to release cortisol.
After the required demand is met, the cortisol acts on the hypothalamus to command the pituitary gland to eliminate the pathway making hormones. However, if the adrenal gland is unable to produce enough cortisol to manage stress levels and to eliminate the pathways during stress times, the fragile balance of hormones is disturbed. This puts a burdensome pressure on the adrenal gland and the upstream glands such as the pituitary gland. The unusual amount of cortisol mixed with other hormonal imbalances in the body has been associated with certain autoimmune conditions, specifically Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and SLS (source: Dr. James L. Wilson’s ‘Adrenal Fatigue’).
But the above description of how autoimmune and adrenal fatigue syndromes are related is a brief overview; let us look at the whole framework here. Among a few other hormones secreted by adrenal glands, the one which is mainly responsible for creating chaos in our bodies is the cortisol. Along with handling the crucial stress levels, cortisol also plays a vital role in regulating the immune system and its response levels.
Once the critical distribution of cortisol is affected due to the overworked and exhausted adrenal glands, the immune system starts to overreact to these stimuli and becomes disrupted as well. This disruption results in its haphazard operation of the immune system and tricks it into attacking healthy body tissues eventually. The human body has a check and balance system in place to curb down the overreacting immune system, and that’s where cortisol plays its vital part by balancing the immune response.
Therefore, the storm of hormonal disruption caused by adrenal fatigue serves as an ideal situation for triggering an autoimmune condition. When adrenal fatigue advances to a stage 3 category, the complete unavailability of cortisol hormones effectively leaves the immune system unchecked, which itself then progresses to an advanced level, and causing constant inflammation and other health issues.
There is another similarity between adrenal fatigue and autoimmune disease which is based on an internal matter – the genetic predisposition. If you are genetically prone to either of these health issues or both for that matter, you will most likely suffer from either one or both in your lifetime. Coupled with this genetic factor, people who also happen to be living in a distressed and polluted environment have a higher chance of getting both adrenal fatigue and autoimmune disease.
If the conditions are not made conducive soon, the sufferer might develop several other health problems due to the disruption of these two. Therefore, it is vital to understand and memorize the steps a person can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from these two troublesome health conditions. Let us look at some of the most effective means of prevention against autoimmune and adrenal fatigue syndrome.
How to Reduce the Risk of Autoimmune Disease & Adrenal Fatigue?
Thankfully, there are several authentic ways available for a person to highly reduce their chances of getting adrenal fatigue and autoimmune disorders. According to a study, women are more vulnerable to adrenal fatigue and autoimmune disorders as compared to men (source: ScienceDirect/National Library of Medicine). Therefore, it is more so important for women to take extra care of themselves to significantly reduce their chances of becoming a victim to these two troublesome health conditions. However, the same goes for men as well because a lower infection rate does not mean to let down the safeguards completely. So, let us look at some of the recommended ways with which both of these health conditions can be avoided for good.
Prevention Tips for Autoimmune Disease:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet – foods that do not cause inflammation problems for the digestive system are ideal for eliminating autoimmune disorder risk. For example, diets that are rich in omega-6 fats, acidic foods, trans fats, grains, and sugars are all inflammatory foods and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, green veggies and fruits rich in vitamin K as well as unrefined high-fiber whole grains, fish, nuts, herbs, and certain spices are an ideal defense.
Quit Smoking & Increase Sleep – heavy smoking and not getting enough sleep is the perfect preparation for triggering several autoimmune conditions.
Obesity – gaining unhealthy weight is another trigger for autoimmune disease. Maintain a healthy weight and release unwanted toxins/fat from your body to reduce your risk of autoimmune disease.
Prevention Tips for Adrenal Fatigue:
Low Stress – a stressful lifestyle and environmental stressors are dangerous not only for the adrenal glands but the overall health. Try to keep the stress in your life between none to a minimum.
Gut Health – eating a diet that is full of probiotics (digestive-friendly bacteria) and rich in fiber will ensure the optimum health of your gut. A disrupted gut system is a welcoming call for adrenal fatigue.
Know Your Limits – do not push yourself too hard! Give yourself time to rest and relax since this will ensure optimum healing of your body and its mechanism.