Laboratory Tests Specific For Adrenal Fatigue
As mentioned above, Adrenal Fatigue is difficult to diagnose with traditional blood tests those available are designed to detect the severe, absolute deficiencies of adrenal hormones that characterizes Addison’s disease, which afflicts 4 out of 100,000 people. Addisons disease often results from an autoimmune disease or originates from an infection. Blood testing also is useful to detect extreme, excessive levels of adrenal hormones associated with Cushing’s disease. In other words, available blood tests measure adrenal hormones only at the extremes.
For a minute, picture a bell curve. The ACTH challenge test reveals extreme underproduction or overproduction of hormone levels, as shown by the top and bottom 2 percent of the bell curve. This means adrenal function must be extremely low in order to fit a recognized diagnosis. However, symptoms of non-Addison adrenal malfunction can begin to appear after a 15 percent deviation from the mean on the bell curve. Therefore, the adrenal glands could be functioning anywhere from 15 to 48 percent below the norm and not be detected by the ACTH test.
- Serum laboratory studies of two surrogate markers of adrenal function, cortisol and DHEA reveal a general picture that tells us if the body is in an anabolic state or catabolic state . However, these blood levels alone do not provide clear evidence that leads to a diagnosis of Adrenal Fatigue.
Who May Need An Adrenal Test
Adrenal tests are typically performed for patients who are exhibiting issues with their pituitary or adrenal glands, such as making too much or too little of the related hormones for instance. Patients who have had problems with bone growth, blood pressure, the function of their immune system, metabolizing of necessary nutrients, nervous system function, and stress response are likely to have this test prescribed by their physician. Also, patients known to have Cushing Syndrome or Addison Disease will likely receive Adrenal tests on a semi-regular basis.
How Do You Find Out If You Have Adrenal Fatigue
You can buy an adrenal fatigue test online and test your adrenal function by collecting saliva samples in the comfort of your own home.
To understand how your adrenal glands function throughout the day, you need to collect and measure more than one cortisol and DHEA sample and track how these change over a 24-hour window.
Usually, youll need to collect your first sample immediately on waking, and then at least three further samples at different times throughout the day. This helps you to see your circadian rhythm of cortisol.
The Healthpath adrenal function report is based on an assessment of both your test results and symptom picture. It comes with an easy-to-follow health plan, and gives you personalised recommendations too.
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What Is Adrenal Insufficiency
Unlike adrenal fatigue, this is a recognized disease that can be diagnosed. There are two forms of this condition, and both are caused by damage or problems with your adrenal glands that result in them not making enough of the hormone cortisol.
Symptoms of both forms include chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, weight loss, and stomach pain. You might also have nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, diarrhea, depression, or darkening of the skin.
What Is Adrenal Gland Fatigue
The term adrenal fatigue is a bit misleading in that it doesnt refer to the adrenal glands themselves wearing out. Rather, its a breakdown in how the adrenal glands communicate with the brain through a connection known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
When the body is under prolonged or severe stress it can lead to a communication breakdown in the HPA axis leading to either adrenal overactivity or underactivity .
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Adrenal Stress Test #2 Iris/pupil Contraction Test
Darken the room and shine a flashlight or use a penlight across one eye and watch what happens in a mirror.
Under normal conditions the pupil will immediately contract and will stay contracted for about 20 seconds. But, if your adrenal glands are exhausted, the pupil cant hold the contraction and will waver between contracted and dilated.
It is also possible the pupil will initially contract and then dilate within 2 minutes regardless of the light shining on it. The dilation will last for 30-45 seconds before it contracts again.
It may be a good idea to retest this monthly as an indicator of improvement as over time, the pupil should hold the contraction longer. The failure of the pupil to remain contracted is more typically present in moderate to severe cases of Adrenal Fatigue.
Is It A Myth
Thereâs no science to back it up. The Endocrine Society, the world’s largest organization of endocrinologists , flatly says that adrenal fatigue is not a real disease. And it says the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are so general, they can apply to many diseases or conditions or stem from everyday life.
And the society says some of the treatments can be dangerous. Improving your diet will probably make you feel better, no matter what ailment you have, but taking unidentified supplements to help your body produce extra cortisol if you don’t need them may cause your adrenal glands to stop working, it warns.
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Third Stage: The Resisting Phase
At this point of Adrenal Fatigue development, the process of producing stress hormones instead of sex hormones becomes even more conspicuous. In other words, testosterone and DHEA drop substantially, while cortisol levels will be far more elevated than usual. One can say that your body steals from sex hormones, such as pregnenelone, and uses all of the borrowed power to generate cortisol.
Even though a person can still have a normal life at this stage of Adrenal Fatigue development, the quality of life drops enormously. No doubt, it is possible to go on with a job and daily routine. Yet, the lack of certain important hormones results in slight depression, exhaustion, decreased interest in sex, vulnerable immune system, and general lack of any drive or enthusiasm. This stage can continue from several months to several years, and many people still fail to regard it as a symptom of Adrenal Fatigue.
What Are The Adrenal Glands
Theadrenal glands are small glands that sit ontop of your kidneys. Theyre responsible for the production of many important hormones,one of the best-known being cortisol oftentimes referred to as the stresshormone.
The adrenal glands are designed to function as a natural buffer for periodic stress, routinely adjusting hormone levels to maintain homeostasis throughout the body.
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Second Stage: Increased Alarm
As the alarm increases, a person starts to generate even more stress coping hormones, like cortisol. This results in the decreased level of other, seemingly less important in the circumstances, hormones. DHEA and sex level hormones are the first ones to drop.
The second stage is characterized by increased alarm and arousal. The body generates a lot of adrenaline, which makes a person feel alert throughout the day and exhausted by the evening. It is important to note that a lot of people going through the second stage of Adrenal Fatigue become caffeine-addicts. All in all, the common feeling during this stage can be described as anxious and exhausted.
How To Treat Adrenal Fatigue
To diagnose any adrenal imbalances, correct testing must be used alongside your symptoms and health history.
There is no one magic tablet or solution to restore adrenal health. Treatment will vary, and will usually consist of dietary tweaks, lifestyle advice and targeted supplements.
Lets look at each in more detail:
DietIts important to maintain steady blood-sugar levels. High blood sugar raises insulinand insulin triggers the release of cortisol. Blood-glucose levels that are too low are also a problem as this can put extra stress on the body.
What you drink is important too. Adequate hydration from filtered water can boost energy, whilst reducing caffeine intake can help to reduce your stress response.
LifestyleSleep is critical because it gives your adrenal glands time to rest and repair. Head over to our article on stress and the sleep-wake cycle to learn more.
Intense physical activity can further weaken your adrenal function. Taking some time out to meditate, practise yoga or socialise with friends can also help slow down an over-hyped nervous system.
SupplementsSpecific vitamins and minerals can be a useful tool for adrenal imbalances. Adaptogens, which are a group of herbs that support the bodys resistance to stress, are also helpful . Its best to speak to a practitioner first, as they can tell you which supplements are best suited for your needs.
For more suggestions on how to tackle adrenal fatigue, check out our blog How to treat adrenal fatigue.
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So Whats A Person To Do
Navigating this ocean of uncertainty is not an easy task. Symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue probably have multiple causes. Frequent follow-up visits and a strong patient-clinician partnership are critical elements for success. Alternative and complementary clinicians often have better results, because the appointments tend to last longer and they view patients through a more holistic lens. An important word of caution: some medical professionals prescribe cortisol analogs to treat adrenal fatigue. Cortisol replacement can be dangerous even in small doses. Unintended consequences can include osteoporosis, diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease.
Regardless of what we call it, there are millions of people suffering from similar symptoms, and a personalized plan that involves counseling, medications, supplements, lifestyle change, among others could work for many. Improvement following these programs is slow, and the evidence is weak, but I hope advances in big data, genomics, and its relationship with the environment and the microbiome, may shine a light on how to better help people who suffer from these ailments.
The adrenal fatigue theory may fit like a glove to explain your symptoms, which are very real. But before buying expensive protocols over the Internet to treat something were not even sure exists, take a deep dive and reexamine your lifestyle. The path to feeling better may be closer than you think.
Are You Nodding Your Head Because This Sounds Familiar
Then read on I have good news! My husband and I recently took the kids on a much needed trip to the shore, and I managed to read up on adrenal fatigue and create a plan for my recovery. I was expecting to feel overwhelmed, but just the opposite happened. I discovered several simple things I can do to care for tired adrenals, which Ill be sharing with in future posts. But first, Ill bet youre wondering if your low energy levels could really be related to adrenal fatigue.
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What Is Cushing’s Syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome is the result of excessive corticosteroids in the body. The main cause is overproduction of adrenocorticotropin hormone in the pituitary gland. ACTH causes the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids, so too much of ACTH means too much of corticosteroids. Another main cause is taking long-term external steroids like prednisone . In addition, certain lung cancers and other tumors outside the pituitary gland may produce corticotropins. Other causes include benign or cancerous tumors on the adrenal glands. Rarely, Cushing syndrome can be an inherited endocrine disorder.
Eat For Blood Sugar Balance
Eating to keep blood sugar balanced reduces blood sugar swings and hypoglycemia, which can lead to fatigue.
A low-glucose diet rich in high-quality protein, ample healthy fats, and adequate fiber from fruits and vegetables can help. The easiest way to do this is to eat a real-food diet that is low in processed foods, like the paleo diet. The low FODMAP diet is another option that has been shown to improve fatigue . If you need help creating the right diet for yourself, consider reaching out to our clinic to meet with our health coach.
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Easy Ways To Do An Adrenal Fatigue Test At Home
The American Institute of Stress estimates that nearly 80% of people nowadays regularly suffer physical symptoms of stress, which includes issues such as anxiety, chronic fatigue, and poor sleep . But it just so happens that these same symptoms are also associated with a much more serious stress-induced syndrome known as adrenal fatigue that, if left to run its course, can be downright life-debilitating.
How Are Overactive Adrenal Glands Diagnosed
In addition to a complete medical history and medical examination, diagnostic procedures for overactive adrenal glands may include:
- Specific blood tests to measure levels of hormones
- Urine tests to measure levels of hormones
- Radiologic tests, such as computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging , ultrasound, or X-ray
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Fourth Stage: Burning Out
At this point of Adrenal Fatigue, the body is simply incapable of producing more cortisol and stress coping levels. So, the level of these hormones begins to decrease. Yet, this does not mean that the sex hormones begin to elevate. Quite on the contrary, both stress and sex hormone levels are very low.
This process is also referred to as burning out. The term has been introduced by Dr. Fredenberger and is used to describe the consequences of prolonged stress coping.
The fourth and final stage of Adrenal Fatigue can result in depression, apathy, exhaustion, weight loss, increased irritability and lack of interest in the surrounding world / people. Recovery from this stage requires a lot of time. In fact, it may even require complete change of scenery and lifestyle.
When Normal Is Not Normal With Laboratory Testing
To illustrate how a normal laboratory test can be present in a body that is not well, let us consider the following:
Laboratory testing plays an important and significant part of assessing bodily function. It should not be disregarded. However, as you can see from the above, just because laboratory testing results are within normal range does not necessarily mean a person is free of illness. Many chronic illnesses, including Adrenal Fatigue, progress over time slowly. Sole reliance on routine blood serum laboratory tests for definitive assessment is a grossly incomplete approach to start in the case of Adrenal Fatigue.
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The Four Main Stages Of Adrenal Fatigue
The definition of Adrenal Fatigue is a rather vague one, since it can describe various symptoms that include several physiological systems affecting different aspects of your health. Adrenal Fatigue progresses along 4 advancing stages, each advancing stage comes with more severe symptoms. Luckily, most people suffering from Adrenal Fatigue fall into the first two stages and can typically recover on their own, without any professional medical assistance. In other words, few patients ever reach latter stages of Adrenal Fatigue the ones that are more severe as is further described below.
Depending on the stage of the disease, hormone levels can vary significantly. In addition, current lab tests, aimed at the detection of the Adrenal Fatigue, should be analyzed very carefully. To diagnose Adrenal Fatigue, one should have a clear understanding of the way a person reacts to the hormonal changes and fluctuations. This is the only way to properly diagnose the exact stage of Adrenal Fatigue and come up with an appropriate treatment solution.
One can point out four stages of Adrenal Fatigue. Each of these stages has a certain development pattern, which makes it possible to diagnose the symptoms and get a better understanding of this complicated process.
Adrenal Function And Electrolyte Balance:
We all have mineral salts in the form of sodium, potassium chloride, sulfate, magnesium, calcium and phosphate that help to control the electrical charge and water flow around cells.
The most important ratio for fluid and electrolyte dynamics is the sodium:potassium ratio. This plays a role in blood pressure, nervous system activity, energy utilization and more. When the body has excess adrenal activity, there will be too much sodium and low potassium and low adrenal activity will lead to low sodium and high potassium.
Using minerals can be very important for balancing adrenal function. Many people are chronically dehydrated despite drinking a lot of water because they have mineral imbalances. We know that soil depletion has removed a significant amount of minerals such as magnesium from our food than in years past.
The minerals in typical table salts are poorly absorbed and most people are eating very little mineral rich foods throughout the day. In addition, many people have low stomach acid and other digestive disturbances that lead to poor mineral absorption.
Most people with adrenal hypofunction will have low sodium and chloride levels and will crave salts in order to help balance this. Make sure they are consuming mineral rich foods and good quality sea salts and Himalayan sea salt in particular.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Cushing’s Syndrome
The following are the most common symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Upper body obesity
- Increased fat around neck or a fatty hump between the shoulders
- Thinning arms and legs
- Stretch marks on abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms, and breasts
- Bone and muscle weakness
- Excess facial and body hair growth in women
- Irregular or stopped menstrual cycles in women
- Reduced sex drive and fertility in men
The symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Tired Low Energy 4 Home Tests To Check For Adrenal Fatigue
TIRED? LOW ENERGY? 4 HOME TESTS TO CHECK FOR ADRENAL FATIGUE
Your adrenal function is crucial to help us adjust to stress and repair. When the adrenals glands are out of balance, it affects our energy, sleep, mental concentration, and hormonal system. Overtime, we can acquire a condition called adrenal fatigue which causes our adrenal glands to not be able to keep up with the needs of our environment.
Below are 4 Do-It-Yourself adrenal fatigue testsyou can do at home and suggestions you can do to feel less tired and have more energy again. If one or more of these tests indicate that you suffer from adrenal fatigue, lets discuss together your choices from this list below:
- Getting a saliva or blood test to confirm these findings
- Start managing your stress by eliminating what is causing it
- Add supplements to boost your adrenal system which we can recommend
Adrenal stress TEST# 1: postural hypotension test
Drink 8 ounces of water about 1/2 hour before this test so you are hydrated. Put your arm in a blood pressure cuff, lie down and rest for five minutes.
Then, stand up immediately and take your blood pressure again. Your systolic number should have increased by 10 to 20 points, if it fell , Adrenal Fatigue is highly a possibility. When we stand, epinephrine is normally produced to raise the blood pressure to overcome gravity and pump blood towards the heart.
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