Have you read about Adrenal Fatigue? Do you think you might have it? Here’s how to tell.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
First of all, Adrenal Fatigue, aka Hypoadrenia, is a deficiency in the functioning of the adrenal glands–the glands that produce your steroid hormones. Too much physical, emotional, environmental, and psychological stress can deplete your adrenals, particularly your output of cortisol. At the very low end of cortisol deficiency is Addison’s disease and at the very high end of cortisol toxicity is Cushing’s disease.
But in between, it’s hard to tell.
Your adrenal glands, BTW, are little pyramid looking things about the size of a walnut that sit on top of your kidneys. The left one and right one have different shapes, oddly enough.
Now known as HPA (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Adrenal) axis disorder, scientists have found that the adrenal glands are just one part of the disorder we commonly call adrenal fatigue.
Here are some of the symptoms, but remember that not all may apply to you depending on your circumstances, genetics and lifestyle:
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Continuuing fatigue even when you have gotten plenty of sleep
- Craving for salt or salty foods
- Lack of energy
- Increased effort to do every day tasks
- Decreased sex drive
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Increased time to recover from illness, injury, or trauma
- Light-headed when standing up quickly
- Mild depression
- Less enjoyment or happiness with life
- Increased PMS
- Symptoms increase if meals are skipped or inadequate
- Fuzzy thinking or less focused
- Memory less accurate
- Decreased tolerance and patience
- Don’t really wake up until 10:00 am or so
- Afternoon low about 3:00 or 4:00
- Feel better after evening meal
- Decreased productivity
Hypoadrenia can Hinder other Chronic Diseases
The adrenal glands are the ‘stress glands.’ For that reason, they are involved in the processes of recovery from chronic disease. Many diseases have an adrenal component and can worsen such diseases as:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Ischemic Heart Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Chronic Respiratory Infections (Bronchitis, Pneumonia, Asthma, Influenza, Allergies)
Three Home Tests for Adrenal Fatigue
It is best to conduct all three of these home tests to determine if you have adrenal fatigue.
- Go into a darkened room with a flashlight or penlight, a mirror, and a stopwatch (most cellphones have this feature).
- While looking into a mirror, shine a flashlight across one eye (not directly into it) from the side of your head.
- Keep the light shining steadily across one eye and watch in the mirror with the other eye.
- You should see your pupil (the dark part in the center) contract immediately as the light hits your eye.
- The pupil normally remains contracted in the increased light. But if you have some form of adrenal fatigue, the pupil will not be able to hold its contraction and will dilate.
- This dilation will take place within 2 minutes and will last for about 30-45 seconds before it recovers and contracts again.
- Time how long the dilation lasts and record that information as you begin a program of adrenal recovery.
Low Blood Pressure and Postural Low Blood Pressure
- If your blood pressure drops and you get woozy when you stand up from a lying down position, this almost always indicates low adrenal function.
- Using a home blood pressure gauge (available at drugstores), take your blood pressure while lying down after you have rested for 10 minutes.
- Next, stand up and measure it immediately after you stand up.
- Normally your BP will rise 10-20 mmHg just from standing up. If it drops when you stand up, you likely have some form of hypoadrenia or you may be dehydrated. If dehydrated, try it again on another day when you have had plenty of water. Just drinking a bunch of water right before the test will not work–the water has to have time to hydrate your tissues.
- The more severe the drop, the more severe is the dehydration. If you already have HIGH blood pressure, you may not see this drop, but that doesn’t rule out adrenal fatigue.
Sergent’s White Line Test
- Take a pen (ballpoint or similar) and with the non-writing end, stroke a line about 6″ long across your stomach.
- Initially, it will leave a white mark as you are making the line, then it will redden within a few seconds.
- If you have hypoadrenia, the line will stay white for about 2 minutes and will widen.
- This test is effective in about 40% of the cases, but if it is positive for you, it is a confirmation of hypoadrenia. It indicates moderate to severe adrenal fatigue.
Lab Tests for Hypoadrendia
Your doctor can order laboratory tests for more accuracy, although many doctors don’t even recognize adrenal fatigue as a real condition. Sadly most patients are told to reduce their stress and are sent off to a psychiatrist. If you have hypoadrenia, you certainly know it’s for real. Find another doctor.
One of the best type of lab tests is the Saliva Hormone test. Saliva hormone levels are more indicative of the amount of hormone inside the cells, where the hormone is being used. Blood tests, on the other hand, measure hormones circulating outside the cells. Urine tests measure the spill over of hormones out of the blood and into the urine.
Some labs allow you to order a saliva hormone test kit without an order from a doctor. The Adrenal Stress Index test from DiagnosTech is one of the best, but is only available through licensed practitioners.
How Bad Is It?
If you feel that you have adrenal fatigue, you want to know how severe it is and you want to know what to do about it.
One of the best tools to determine severity is a questionnaire written by James L. Wilson, ND, DC, PhD in his book “Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome” but also available online at this link:
The quiz, which is scored online, will give you a good idea of where you stand. Then you can address the changes necessary to recover. These changes involve lifestyle changes, nutrition changes including dietary supplements, food allergies/sensitivities, adrenal cell extracts and hormones. These can be explored on Dr. Wilson’s website at www.adrenalfatigue.org.
A more comprehensive self-help recovery plan is available in his book.
Here’s your simple change for the day: Test yourself at home for Adrenal Fatigue.
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Joli Tripp and Mind Blowing Wellness are not medical doctors nor licensed medical professionals. No comment or recommendation should be construed as being a medical diagnosis. If you suffer from a medical or pathological condition, you should consult an appropriate healthcare provider.
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