It is difficult to diagnose adrenal gland fatigue due to the large number of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Sometimes those symptoms are actually a result of something a lot more serious than apparent adrenal gland fatigue. The established medical profession does not recognize adrenal fatigue as a medical condition, even though physicians described it as a clinical condition in the Twentieth century.
The Theory Behind Adrenal Gland Fatigue
Adrenal gland fatigue is something that many, many people could be potentially suffering from. The reason for this is simple: stress is the underlying cause of adrenal exhaustion. Almost everyone is subjected to varying amounts of stress on a daily basis. Severe stress forces the adrenal glands to secrete hormones into the body that change our responsiveness to “fight or flight” mode.
While this response was intended to give humans a better chance of survival in the wild, it hampers us now that we live in modern society. There are many possible sources of stress in our lives that evoke panic and stress. Financial problems, lack of job security, family issues, commuting in busy cities – all these things factor into our daily subjection to stress.
The hormones that the adrenal glands secrete under normal circumstances, are responsible for regulating heartbeat, breathing, digestion and processing of glucose, protein and carbohydrates. When we get stressed, the main hormone secreted by the adrenals is cortisol. Initially, your body’s cortisol levels rise due to constant stress, but when adrenal fatigue sets in, cortisol levels drop way below normal.
Common Adrenal Gland Fatigue Symptoms
Due to the lack of cortisol, people who are stressed too much will end up experiencing a breakdown in body routines and basic functions. These adrenal gland fatigue symptoms are broad and could be caused by more serious conditions that are not yet diagnosed properly. Symptoms include the following: mild depression and the inability to concentrate; low blood pressure due to the blood vessels not being contracted enough; digestion problems; the inability to sleep properly, or have any proper sleep pattern.
Since cortisol regulates how macro-nutrients and sugar are digested, improper digestion and absorption leads to blood sugar imbalances, such as hypoglycemia. Chronic fatigue is common when there is a lack of cortisol. This is felt more in the morning and late afternoon. The body usually has maximum cortisol levels at the end of the day, and minimum levels a couple of hours before waking. Inflammation, impaired immune system and disrupted thyroid functioning, are also common adrenal gland fatigue symptoms.
Why Blood Tests Can Not Detect Adrenal Exhaustion
Normal blood tests are not sensitive enough to detect imbalances associated with adrenal fatigue. Blood tests can be used for diagnosing Addison’s disease, which is characterized by severe imbalances in the body’s hormonal system. Addison’s is a much more severe form of adrenal fatigue and is a recognized medical condition.
The normal ACTH test will detect extreme hormone imbalances, which fall in the top two and bottom two percent of a bell-curve. Adrenal fatigue has more subtle imbalances than that.
Laboratory Tests for Adrenal Fatigue
It is possible to demonstrate the presence of adrenal gland fatigue in a patient by using carefully controlled tests. Cortisol and DHEA levels can be measured and tracked. It is possible to determine whether the body is in an anabolic or catabolic state. Because cortisol hormone levels are supposed to follow a very definite pattern of peaks and troughs during the day, consistently incorrect levels can point to adrenal gland fatigue.
Cortisol levels should be at the highest point in the morning and at the lowest point in the late evening. Saliva samples should be taken at these times for tracking cortisol levels. DHEA can be measured all through the day. By taking multiple samples of cortisol and DHEA, the body’s hormone balance, versus the situations it is in during the day, can be compared and interpreted.
Laboratory tests are not definitive, but they can be used as a supporting measure when diagnosing and treating adrenal fatigue. Because the hormone levels are subject to many external influences, laboratory tests for adrenal gland fatigue are less helpful than good, accurate patient histories.