Monday, May 20, 2024

Is There A Blood Test For Adrenal Fatigue

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Balance The Hormones That Control Your Stress Response

Adrenal Fatigue and Normal Blood Test Results

Adrenal fatigue is one of the most under diagnosed illnesses in western society, and is estimated to affect 80% of adults.

Stress is part of everyday life and how you respond to it has a significant effect on your health. The most common daily stressors often go unnoticed and include lack of sleep, work overload, poor diet, too much caffeine and alcohol and not enough exercise. That’s why we’ve designed this simple adrenal fatigue test which you can do at home.

Refer to our demo for an example set of test results.

The adrenal glands regulate your bodys response to stress, and if youre under chronic stress they can become exhausted – this is evident when measuring your cortisol and DHEA-S hormones with this adrenal fatigue test. The most common signs of adrenal fatigue include exhaustion, insomnia, depression, anxiety, sugar and/ or salt cravings, weight problems, decreased sex drive, more prone to colds and flu, and less tolerance to stress. Check out our blog for more information.

Dangers Of Unregulated Vitamins And Supplements

The FDA does not review or approve dietary supplements based on their safety and effectiveness. This means that many supplements and herbal remedies sold in stores can contain ingredients that may interact with other medications youre taking, or the dosages may be out of FDA-regulated guidelines.

Its best to run any dietary supplements by your doctor first. Not all vitamins, supplements, and herbs are dangerous , but everyones personal health issues are unique. Talk to your doctor if you have other medically diagnosed conditions, or are currently taking prescription medication.

What Is Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is a term used by alternative health practitioners to explain why some people constantly feel tired. However, it is not an accepted medical diagnosis.

The adrenal glands sit on top of each kidney. Their role is to produce hormones, including adrenaline and noradrenaline, both of which are used to prepare the body for fight or flight.

Some people believe that when the adrenal glands are overworked through exposure to stressful situations, they dont produce enough of these hormones. The theory first came from a chiropractor in 1998. However, there is no scientific evidence that this condition exists.

There can be many reasons why people feel tired all the time and therefore it is often not easy to pinpoint a cause.

If you are told you have adrenal fatigue, its important to check with your doctor that there isnt another cause of your tiredness. Some supplements given to people to treat adrenal fatigue might be dangerous for them.

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Recap + Final Thoughts

What should you take away after reading this article?

My hope is that you understand, with some degree of certainty, that cortisol testing is not a straightforward process.

In addition, I want you to realize that if you think you have adrenal fatigue it may not even be necessary to check your cortisol levels to confirm your suspicion.


Because many of the therapies designed to help treat adrenal fatigue can be done regardless of your cortisol level.

In fact, most of these therapies may just help you lead a healthier life that is more resistant to stress.

There are only a handful of therapies which can help treat either high or low cortisol.

If possible, I think it’s a good idea to check at least your serum cortisol.

You can do this when you test for other hormone imbalances such as thyroid problems and insulin resistance which tend to accompany people who suffer from chronic stress.

These conditions SHOULD be tested for and you might as well throw on a serum cortisol in the process.

If you find that your cortisol is normal, however, don’t be discouraged.

The fact that your cortisol is normal doesn’t preclude you from suffering from stress in a way which may lead to the symptoms of adrenal fatigue or burn out syndrome.

Do your best to stick to well studied therapies to treat adrenal fatigue and stay away from marketing claims which are too good to be true or incredibly expensive.

Now I want to hear from you:

Have you undergone testing for adrenal fatigue?


How Do Doctors Test For Adrenal Fatigue

How Do You Test For Adrenal Fatigue?

Practitioners who test for adrenal fatigue believe that lower-than-normal cortisol levels are a hallmark of the disease.

However, cortisol, and other hormone levels, fluctuate based on time of day and month. Hormones also interact with each other, so thyroid hormones are often tested as well. Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that regulates growth, metabolism, and a range of bodily functions.

The tests listed below are usually ordered when a persons symptoms suggest an adrenal, pituitary, or thyroid problem or other medical condition that indicates a hormone inbalance. You may want to get a second opinion for any abnormal test results if your practitioner uses this information to support a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue.

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Tests To Check For Adrenal Fatigue

Do you feel tired and drained of energy all the time? Do you struggle to get up in the morning, no matter how early you went to bed? Maybe youve been trying to correct your thyroid hormone without luck. That could be because your adrenal glands arent functioning effectively.

Fatigue has many causes, and it could be related to your adrenal glands. Adrenal glands produce ACTH which converts to cortisol hormone. Your adrenal glands also make aldosterone which has to do with blood pressure and salt/water balance.

If youre adrenals are weak, youll have thyroid disease, as in hypothyroidism. This is because the two endocrine glands work synergistically to supply essential hormones to every cell throughout the body. Because most of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are similar to adrenal fatigue, the two conditions can be confused wtih one another. If youd like to learn more about that, Ive written another article called, The Link Between Chronic Fatigue and Your Thyroid, which you can read by

The Human Endocrine System

Today, life is hectic. Think about the past year or two. Have you been under pressure or a lot of stress. If work, school or relationships are causing you to suffer with constant deadlines, pressure or anguish then its possible that your exhaustion is from adrenal fatigue. You might be wondering, what is that exactly.

This is very common for people who have chronic fatigue, or who have been seriously ill for a long time.

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.

Also Check: Constant Fatigue And Body Aches

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.

Do I Need Both Tests Or Is One Better Than The Other

Do I have Adreanl Fatigue If My Blood Tests Are Normal?

If your health care provider suspects Cushing syndrome, usually both blood and urine are tested as they offer complementary information. Blood cortisol is easier to collect but is affected more by stress than is the 24-hour urine test. Salivary cortisol may sometimes be tested instead of blood cortisol.

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Tests Available For Adrenal Fatigue

There are 3 main ways to test your cortisol level:

  • Serum CortisolPerhaps the easiest way to test your cortisol is by drawing your blood.
  • Salivary CortisolSalivary cortisol is tested by assessing cortisol in your saliva.
  • Urinary CortisolUrinary cortisol can be ordered and checked by looking at how much cortisol and cortisone is excreted in your urine.

Each of these methods have pros and cons.

Serum levels of cortisol can be difficult to evaluate because serum levels are not standardized and vary across hospitals and other clinical studies.

Salivary cortisol levels suffer because they may not be indicative of cortisol levels in other areas of your body and because many different medications and substances interfere with the test.

And urinary cortisol may not be accurate because the amount of hormone that you secrete may not reflect utilization in other tissues .

Of the three listed here I almost always recommend starting with serum cortisol.


Because it’s cheap and almost always covered by insurance.

It may not be the ‘best’ or most accurate indicator of cortisol usage in your body but, as we will soon find out, that might not even be necessary.

Both urinary and salivary cortisol can be ordered by physicians as well but they are typically not covered by insurance meaning you will most likely have to pay out of pocket.

I’ve had numerous patients give me all 3 cortisol tests with different results.

Postural Low Blood Pressure

When we stand up, those of us who are in good health experience an almost immediate rise in blood pressure. In contrast, Adrenal Fatigue sufferers will see no change in their blood pressure, or even a slight fall. In very general terms, a larger drop in blood pressure signifies a more severe case of Adrenal Fatigue.

This is a very simple test to do at home. Use your regular blood pressure monitor and check your blood pressure while lying down. Then stand up and conduct the test again.

Do you have Adrenal Fatigue? A few changes in your diet and lifestyle can go a long way to getting your energy levels back. You can also use some natural supplements to give your body the support it needs to recover. Dr Eric Wood and I teamed up to write The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, which contains a comprehensive plan to recover from Adrenal Fatigue.

Read Also: Does Adrenal Fatigue Cause Weight Gain

What Are The Adrenal Glands And What Do They Do

You have two small adrenal glands that lie just above each kidney. Each adrenal gland has an outer part and an inner part . Cells in the adrenal glands make various hormones. A hormone is a chemical which is made in one part of the body but passes into the bloodstream and has effects on other parts of the body.

Cells in the outer part of the adrenal glands make the hormones cortisol and aldosterone. The amount of cortisol that is made is controlled by another hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone . ACTH is made in a small gland that lies just under the brain . This in turn is stimulated by another hormone which is produced by another part of the brain called the hypothalamus. ACTH passes into the bloodstream, is carried to the adrenal glands and stimulates the adrenal glands to make cortisol.

  • Cortisol is a hormone that is vital for health. It has many functions which include:
  • Helping to regulate blood pressure.
  • Helping to regulate the immune system.
  • Helping to balance the effect of insulin in regulating the blood sugar level.
  • Helping the body to respond to stress.
  • Aldosterone helps to regulate salts in the blood and helps to control blood pressure.
  • Cells in the inner part of the adrenal glands make the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline . These have various actions throughout the body.

    What Is Cushing’s Syndrome

    Adrenal Fatigue Home Tests

    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.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Cushings Syndrome

    The following are the most common symptoms of Cushings 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 Cushings syndrome may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

    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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    Is It All A Myth

    Endocrinologists are scientists and doctors who treat and research diseases of the glands and hormones. According to the Endocrine Society, which is the largest organization of endocrinologists in the world, adrenal fatigue isnt a legitimate diagnosis.

    Members of the society are concerned that a person diagnosed with adrenal fatigue might stop seeking a more accurate diagnosis. They also worry that people who believe they have adrenal fatigue will take cortisol, which could pose a health hazard.

    However, some practitioners do advocate treatments that happen to be good for your health in general, such as the adrenal fatigue diet.

    Symptoms Of Adrenal Insufficiency

    Blood versus Saliva Testing for Adrenal Fatigue

    Adrenal insufficiency is categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary. Primary adrenal insufficiency is typically called Addisons disease.

    Adrenal insufficiency usually occurs when the outer layer of your adrenals becomes damaged. This damage causes your adrenal glands to produce insufficient amounts of steroid hormones.

    In Addisons disease, also known as primary adrenal insufficiency, the adrenal glands cannot make enough cortisol. The production of aldosterone and androgens, two other types of steroid hormones made by the adrenal glands, is usually lower as well.

    Secondary adrenal insufficiency is a more common issue. Secondary adrenal insufficiency occurs when the pituitary gland, a small gland near the brain, does not signal the adrenal glands to make cortisol.

    The common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency usually come on slowly, over time, and may include:

    • fatigue

    If your doctor rules out biological explanations of your symptoms, they may look into possible mental health conditions.

    If underlying medical conditions have been ruled out, its possible that the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are in fact the repercussions of the following: a diet that lacks sufficient nutrients, a more sedentary lifestyle, and less-than-ideal sleep habits.

    Recommended Reading: How To Test For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    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 .

    If The Tiger Doesnt Kill You The Traffic Will

    The Adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys and produce the hormones aldosterone and cortisol.

    Unhealthy levels of aldosterone cause either hyperaldosteronism or hyporaldosteronism disorders. The reason you have never heard of these is because theyre uncommon.

    What is common is stress, and the stress hormone is cortisol.

    When facing that tiger, cortisol kicks in and prepares you for flight or fight. In either case, the tiger will soon eat you and the high levels of cortisol surging in your body will be irrelevant.

    When facing bumper-to-bumper traffic, however, the cortisol stays elevated theres no tiger to end your misery. Repeat this often enough and youre dealing with chronic stress and sustained, unhealthy levels of cortisol.

    This can result in adrenal fatigue and an unhappy life one by the way that may be unnecessarily short. Thats because chronic stress can reduce telomere length.

    Why should you care about the length of your telomeres? Because their length is a good predictor of your lifespan.

    Telomeres are protective caps of DNA at the end of your chromosomes. They protect chromosomes from the critical shortening and damage that may ultimately lead to cellular death and loss of health.

    Telomeres protect against chromosomal damage

    Back in 2009, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn won a Nobel Prize by showing how chronic stress causes telomeres to shorten. That stress can be measured by the cortisol that your adrenals produce.

    So, just how stressed are you?

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