Last updated: Jun 06, 2011
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Q: I keep reading about a problem called “adrenal fatigue.” How can I tell if I have it?



A: Well, theres some debate as to whether this even exists. There is a condition called adrenal insufficiency, or Addisons disease, in which your adrenal glands dont produce enough hormones, and youre left feeling extremely fatigued—even light-headed and achy. A blood test can diagnose this. Adrenal fatigue, on the other hand, is a catchall term used to describe a milder form of insufficiency that cant be detected by blood tests. The symptoms linked to it include aches, nervousness, and sleep and digestive problems, in addition to fatigue. But it isnt a recognized medical diagnosis, and for good reason: Theres no scientific proof that slightly low levels of the hormones produced by your adrenal glands, such as cortisol, cause these symptoms. If you feel inexplicably tired, see your doctor to find out if its a sign of a real health issue, such as a thyroid problem or depression.