9 Adrenal Exhaustion Symptoms That You Should Know

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Many people suffer from insomnia, but few suspect it may be one of the adrenal exhaustion symptomsAdrenal Fatigue Syndrome affects every organ system in the body, leading to a wide range of symptoms that can be confusing to interpret. Most people, and even conventional doctors, are unaware that all these symptoms are related to a single condition, and do not understand that they are adrenal exhaustion symptoms. Treatments often focus on each symptom one at a time and can cause side effects or make some other symptoms worse. The symptoms need to be looked at together to come to an informed conclusion about their underlying cause.

Adrenal Exhaustion Symptoms:

Below are some adrenal exhaustion symptoms that appear common, but together point towards their underlying common cause.


This is the number one symptom most people complain of. The body is often unable to get proper rest due to high levels of cortisol in the early stages of Adrenal Fatigue, and norepinephrine and epinephrine in the later stages keep the body amped up and unable to relax properly to rest. Mid-afternoon slump followed by a 2nd wind in the early evening is a classic sign.


In addition to keeping the body alert and from getting proper rest, the consistently high levels of these stress hormones disturb the body’s daily rhythm, making it hard to go to sleep at the right time and to stay asleep throughout the night. Their entire 24-hour cycle is disrupted. The more advanced the AFS, the more frequently nighttime awakening can occur. Sometimes they are accompanied by heart palpitations and sweating. This is a sign that the body’s fight-or-flight response is on full throttle and metabolic derangement may be at hand.

Low blood pressure

In early stages of adrenal fatigue, blood pressure can be higher than normal. During the later stages of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, weakened adrenals put out lower amounts of cortisol, which help regulate blood pressure, and therefore blood pressure tends to drop. If you find that you constantly are thirsty and have a need to carry a water bottle around, consider it may be adrenal exhaustion symptoms.

Worsening allergies

Cortisol, released by the adrenals, also play a key role in controlling histamines, the major hormone in allergic reactions. When cortisol levels become lower, the histamines exert a greater effect, exaggerating existing allergies and flaring up some that were not a problem before. Skin problems, bloating, food sensitivities often worsen when this occurs. Suppressing the allergies with medication does not solve the problem and only leads to dependency issues further down the road. Nurturing the adrenal glands back to optimum health remains the foundational approach that helps the body heal itself over time.

Low body temperature

If you have low body temperature, you may want to be on the lookout for other adrenal exhaustion symptomsMetabolism can be affected by Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, leading to poor thermal regulation and tending towards a lower body temperature than normal. Low body temperature despite being put on thyroid replacement medication is a classic sign that the low metabolism and fatigue experienced is not due to a primary thyroid problem, but rather a condition of low thyroid function caused by adrenal gland weakness.

Menstrual irregularities and PMS

As part of a hormonal axis with the thyroid and ovaries, the decline in function of the adrenal glands causes imbalances in other hormones throughout the body, including those regulating the female reproductive cycle.

Salt cravings

The adrenal glands are also responsible for secreting aldosterone, an important hormone that helps regulate salt levels in the body. Aldosterone is generally low in those with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, which lowers the amount of sodium in the body.

Heart palpitations

Heart palpitations can be concerning if you do not know their cause, they may be adrenal exhaustion symptomsSodium imbalance in the body creates its own set of problems, which at their most severe, can include cardiac problems.


Low cortisol levels hamper the body’s ability to convert glycogen, fats, and proteins into new glucose supplies, leading to a faster drop in blood sugar after eating.

These and more symptoms form a dizzying array of afflictions that can be hard to decipher for even a medical professional. What’s more, as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome progresses, many symptoms can change in severity and new symptoms can arise. The important thing to remember is that the symptoms can all be interconnected, and there may not be any need to isolate and treat them as different diseases.

Not every sufferer of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome will have all of these adrenal exhaustion symptoms, some may even have many more not listed. If you have a variety of unexplained symptoms, it may pay to investigate Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome as a potential culprit.

Adrenal exhaustion symptoms


  • Caroline Espach says:

    Good day.
    I had complications during the birth of my 2nd child that left me with hypoxic brain damage. I was on every medication u could possibly think of since i was in a coma for 17 days. I have recovered since and i am now a year off medication except for blood pressure meds. The combination of meds i had to take had increased my body weight with 70kg that i now have to lose again. I am so tired all the time constantly thirsty. I crave salty and then sweet foods. I have like rash on my chest that looks like dark stains then it inflates starts getting itchy and goes red and 2 weeks later it peels off. When i have been in a seated pksition and i get up and walk 3 steps my ears go like there os a helicopter flying and i get dizzy this lasts about 3 to 5 min sometimes and feels like vertigo. We have tested my thyroid sugar kidney function ect ect and they cant find anything wrong. My arms and legs are also very tender below the knee and burns like fire sometimes. I also get these random burning feelings under my feet and legs like someone is burning me with a sigaret and my hand palms go blood red pale in the middle blood red on the sides like im bleeding under my skin. Could this be adrenal failure? And how should i treat it? Oh yes i forgot the pins and needles in my hands. I dont know if it is symptoms of the brain injury or something else. I also get very bad head aches did the brain scan nothing wrong. We cant seem to find the problem. I am going on a detox type of diet in january to see maybe it is toxins and also to get my Bmi back on track.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      It’s hard to say for sure without a more detailed history. Some symptoms are consistent with AFS but not all. Do be very careful with any cleanse as it can crash you.

      Dr Lam

    • madeleiene hamilton says:

      it is possible that the redness on your hands are as a result of high histamin levels. i get it too.

  • Lana says:

    Dr Lam, I’m desperate for advice, doctors seem to only want to prescribe sedatives and serotonin medication…I m having horrible low blood perasure drops as well as sugar drops..what do I do then? it is so bad I’m near fainting and shortness of breath..kind Regards Lana

  • Sheena MacCallum says:

    I’m 28 years old. I go to gym 3 times a week. I’m on my feet most days. I try to maintain a healthy balanced diet. However I’m constantly exhausted, struggling to lose weight, suffer from allergies and headaches. This last year has been a year of high stress. I sleep an average of 9 hours a day and wake up exhausted as if I haven’t slept in days. I have always been an active, slim person with a lot of energy, but now I struggle to get out of bed. I can barely keep my eyes open during the day. I’m trying to lose weight and get healthy, but nothing seems to work. Does this sound like adrenal fatigue and what do I do to treat it.

  • Susan says:

    What does it mean if you have adrenal fatigue with high blood pressure? (Currently on dessicated thyroid meds with Vit D supplements). I use nothing else.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      It can happen in early stages of AFS as well as if there are other issues going on, such as thyroid meds, dehydration, etc.

      Dr Lam

  • Hendrika says:

    Is there any medication one can take for this?

    • Dr.Lam says:

      There are prescription medication for symptoms control that your doctor can advise, but usually are not very good for you long term.

      Dr Lam

  • C.S. says:

    I have had hormonal problems all of my life. Lack of menstruial periods, Steins Leventhal ovaries, Pueuso Cerebra, Cushing’s, Cortisol tumors on Adrenal gland, Adrenal gland removal, no working Adrenal glands, now full-time blown Addison’s Disease. Also diabetes, joint pain, thyroid problems, etc. I am on 45 mg of Hydrocortisone daily. Have been for over 10 years. Have never been depressed or anxious. I am over weight (from Cushing’s) and have out lived all my relatives. I am 70 years old. My problem is I get very tired and need rest. I try to keep active with volunteer work, at least 3 to 4 days per week. I have three college degrees and an IQ of 169. Do people with Adrenal problems tend to be intelligent?

  • Pam says:

    Have been suffering from adrenal fatigue for at least 2 years now. Worse symptom I have is waking up every hour all night long. Been to natural doctor & have been on lots of different supplements. But nothing is working. How do I know what to take ? I need help!!

    • Dr. Lam says:

      That is very common, as the body is “wired” and will not allow you to fall back to sleep . For symptoms control, you can try my Adrenal Stay Asleep at bedtime. Each person is very different, dont forget.

      Dr Lam

      • Susan says:

        Wow, this supplement looks fanrastic!! I hope you ship to South Africa as well. I stopped taking sleeping tablets and started taking a melatonin/tryptophan combo before bedtime, but its way too powerful, I sleep for dead as well as during the day, its too much. This Adrenal stay asleep looks perfect.

        • Dr.Lam says:

          Supplement Clinic ships worldwide. Depending on how severe is your issue, start slowly and listen to your body.

          Dr Lam