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What are the symptoms of adrenal-gland fatigue?

Can you tell me about adrenal-gland fatigue?

Your have two adrenal glands, one above each of your kidneys. They produce hormones that help balance fluids and cortisol which helps you respond to stress and maintain energy.

When the adrenal glands are not functioning at their best, you can have a condition known as adrenal fatigue. This can develop after long or intense periods of physical or emotional stress. The adrenal glands stop producing enough of the hormones you need to feel good.

Some of the symptoms include excessive fatigue, non-refreshing sleep, craving salty and sweet foods, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to the cold, low blood pressure, slowness to recover from injury, illness or stress, feeling run down or overwhelmed.

You should see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms as they may be due to other illnesses including diabetes, thyroid disease, depression, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Can I get a blood test to see if my adrenal glands are working normally?

Adrenal failure (Addison's disease) can be diagnosed by a series of blood tests including the ACTH Stimulation test. Cushing's Syndrome (overactive adrenal glands) is diagnosed by taking urine and blood samples over a 24-hour period to measure cortisol levels.

However, adrenal-gland fatigue is a mild to moderate adrenal insufficiency and blood tests cannot diagnose this.

I have seen saliva test kits advertised on the internet. Would you recommend using these?

Some doctors are using saliva tests to measure cortisol to diagnose Cushing's syndrome as well as to evaluate possible stress-related disorders. If you order a kit online, make sure it is from a reputable company. It is not recommended to make a diagnosis of adrenal disorder, or any other illness, using this method only.

You should take the results to your doctor and discuss your symptoms further.

How can you treat adrenal-gland fatigue?

Some people have found that low-dose hydrocortisone can help resolve the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. This is best prescribed by a doctor who has expertise in diagnosing adrenal fatigue and working with hydrocortisone.

Lifestyle changes that can help include avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol.

Try to keep your blood sugars balanced -- eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Have frequent small meals during the day. Take a B complex supplement that has B6 and pantothenic acid.

Teach yourself how to relax and reduce the effects of stress on your body -- there are various stress-reduction methods that can be of help. Even a few minutes every day closing your eyes and deep-breathing will make a difference.