The Adrenal Fatigue Debate

Fewer scenarios are more frustrating than sitting in your doctor’s office with a whole host of symptoms and no concrete answers. Unlike a broken bone or a sinus infection, diagnosis can be much less clear when dealing with health concerns such as exhaustion, body aches, nervousness or digestive issues. If this situation sounds all too familiar, you may already be well aware of the adrenal fatigue debate. If not, or for more information on adrenal fatigue, keep reading.

Adrenal Insufficiency vs. Adrenal Fatigue

Before we dive in to what exactly adrenal fatigue is, it is important to understand what specifically it is not.Our adrenal glands are responsible for producing hormones, most notably in this instance – cortisol. When our adrenal glands produce an inadequate amount of hormones, we may be diagnosed with “adrenal insufficiency.” Adrenal insufficiency is a widely accepted health condition that is detected through medical tests. Unlike adrenal insufficiency, adrenal fatigue is not currently a universally accepted medical condition. There are no definitive medical tests for adrenal fatigue at this time.

What exactly IS Adrenal Fatigue?

Because of the ambiguity around adrenal fatigue, it is not easy to find an exact medical definition. Basically, adrenal fatigue seems to be term used as a blanket answer to otherwise unexplained contemporary health challenges. These challenges include stress, sleep problems, loss of body hair, digestive issues, body aches, weight changes, and more. The theory behind adrenal fatigue claims the adrenal glands of individuals who are subject to external stressors over an extended period of time cannot keep up with cortisol production to counteract all the stress. 

If you ask a handful of medical professionals about adrenal fatigue, it would not be surprising if you received a handful of very different opinions. Some supporters of adrenal fatigue as a medical condition may advise sufferers to make lifestyle changes, add vitamins or supplements to their health routine, and kick bad habits. Those who feel that adrenal fatigue is an unproven diagnosis may encourage patients to seek more concrete answers to underlying conditions that could be causing symptoms. 

In short, adrenal fatigue sounds like an answer given during the point in time when our unhealthy modern lifestyles catch up with us and no one can pin point the exact cause. When in this situation, the frustration is real and almost any answer may feel better than no answer at all. Perhaps adrenal fatigue is real, or perhaps it is not. However, it just may be the catalyst needed to take a good, hard look at your overall lifestyle and choices. Regardless of who believes what, it is ALWAYS important to talk to your doctor regarding any symptoms you may be experiencing, or before making any changes to your healthcare routine.  

Sources:

https://www.hormone.org/~/media/Hormone/Files/Questions%20and%20Answers/Adrenal/FS_APD_Adrenal_Insufficiency_EN612.pdf

https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/adrenal/adrenal-fatigue

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/expert-answers/adrenal-fatigue/faq-20057906?p=1

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