This is Dr. Lam, founder of DrLam.com, and today we are going to talk to about some rather severe and important symptoms, which are shortness of breath.
Now people with adrenal fatigue can sometimes present with shortness of breath despite a normal work up. In other words, they feel that they are not catching a full breath of air, especially on exertion and when under stress as well. After extensive work up for the lungs and the heart, they are given a clean bill of health. What is really going on? As far as conventional medicine is concerned there is no clear explanation, and sufferers are universally sent home with no solution. Sometimes they are put on some form of an inhaler to help the breathing mechanism, but generally speaking, this doesn't really help it as well.
Now, we don't have the exact physiological basis to know why, but what we do see is this shortness of breath usually happens in two situations; in the setting of adrenal fatigue, one is when the person is extremely nervous with anxiety and this can have some trouble of shortness of breath associated, but this usually is more associated with panic attack-like symptoms where the person is breathing rapidly, and the intake is shallow, resulting in the build up of carbon dioxide. Therefore, this shortness of breath is a vicious cycle that propagates itself.
There is another possibility; it's that those people with advanced adrenal fatigue who are in a catabolic state, these people tend to lose muscle mass; now usually by the time that this comes upon, the person is rather skinny. They not only lose muscle mass in their big muscles such as their biceps or the triceps, but the intercostal muscles, the muscles that hold ribs together are also decompensating. So, when a person wants to take a deep breath, it does not happen because when you have wasting of the intercostal muscles the muscle strength becomes compromised. When this happens the ribcage can not be expanded as it normally can. So, there are physical and structural limitations to this breathing when this happens.
So this is usually presented as I said earlier in a person who is already somewhat catabolic, losing weight, severe fatigue, not necessarily doing a lot of exercises, mostly housebound, and in the advanced stages of adrenal fatigue. Normally when this happens there are also signs of GI disturbances, gastric slow down, palpitations in the heart, neurotransmitter imbalances, so we are getting with a clinical picture that is rather serious in terms of presenting itself in an abnormal fashion. The shortness of breath is just one of those things that goes along; by itself it is not indicative of anything because the person still can breathe, its just that when under stress they feel that they are very tight. They try to take a deep breath and there are some limitions, but by and large normal breathing mechanisms in terms of oxygen saturation are still intact, but the complaint is there.
So if a person has this complaint of shortness of breath, and you look at the person and there is an adrenal fatigue setting, you have to really think about whether it is an issue of catabolism undergoing as well as whether it is an issue of other triggering factors. Together, put the whole clinical picture together, and when you put the clinical picture together, you will be able to see that it is really a bigger problem going on underneath.
Now, the good news is that usually as the adrenals recover and the muscle rebuilding and the catabolic process is reversed then this will improve. Nevertheless, it is an important symptom to recognize because an unresolved catabolism can lead to shortness of breath which can then lead to many other structural problems because if the lung cannot expand then it is more prone to getting infections, etc. So, you don't want to leave this unturned, uninvestigated.