Adrenal Dysfunction


The real question is who doesn’t! In today’s stressful society nearly 90% of all my patients have some form of adrenal dysfunction.

The most commonly “recognized” form of adrenal dysfunction is primary adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison’s disease. This occurs in both sexes and affects nearly 1 in 100,000 people. The adrenal glands, two triangle-shaped glands that sit over the kidneys, are responsible for regulating the body’s response to stress by controlling the hormones released during stress. When stress becomes chronic or is not well managed, the adrenal glands are unable to function optimally. Over a prolonged period of time, symptoms associated with adrenal insufficiency develop and if severe enough and not addressed, may become fatal.

Because symptoms of Addison’s disease progress slowly, they may go unrecognized until a physically stressful event, such as another illness, surgery, or an accident, worsen symptoms quickly. When this happens, it’s called an Addisonian crisis. An Addisonian crisis is considered a medical emergency. Not unlike many other missed or undiagnosed conditions presenting with disabling symptoms, adrenal dysfunction perhaps tops the list. The reason so many patient’s symptoms linger for months or even years (and in some, decades) is because the current trend in traditional medicine is to only treat a diagnosis that can be found to fit into a pre-established cookbook list of signs and symptoms that can also be attached to an ICD 9 diagnostic code and an “acceptable” and established abnormal lab test!

One of the problems here is that symptoms of adrenal dysfunction are exactly those of Addison’s Disease just to a lesser degree. But, because adrenal dysfunction – that in itself has seven phases or degrees if you will, does not meet the criteria for the average doctor’s diagnostic abilities, millions of patients suffer with “pre-Addision’s” disease (adrenal dysfunction) without even knowing it. They are then left being “labeled” as having CFIDS/CFS, EBV, LYME, or DEPRESSION. What’s more is the doctor goes on (unknowingly) making the situation worse by telling the patient they are “lucky” that they do not have anything wrong with them!

The danger in missing the signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue is that a patient suffers needlessly and the long-term symptoms that should and could have been avoided lead to end stage adrenal disease, surgical complications and death. Think about this —

BOTTOM LINE: If the brakes on your car are squeaking, do you wait to go to the repair shop? Once you get there does the mechanic tell you the breaks are wearing down but to wait until they stop working to have anything done? It is precisely this scenario that makes me ashamed at times of our world-class healthcare rank of 37.

What can you do? Find another mechanic! You keep searching until the complaint, symptom, problem or condition is diagnosed and fixed or treated! Unfortunately, at least for now, you have to be the knowledgeable player on your healthcare team until more doctors open their eyes and ears to ongoing complaints of chronic illness. Just as you don’t wait for your brakes to fail, don’t wait for your healthcare provider either. Take a stand by learning more about your own health
and illness. Demand, pursue and obtain the best care you can receive by being an active member of your own healthcare team.

Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

  • Unable to fall asleep
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Midday Fatigue
  • Reduced tolerance for stress
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Allergies to things you were never allergic to before
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Weakened immune function
  • Inability to sleep through the night
  • Depression
  • Aching joints
  • Diminished sex drive
  • A tendency to feel cold (many individuals and doctors often misdiagnose hypothyroidism)
  • Craving for salt and sweets
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Loss of muscle mass and strength
  • Many more

REMEMBER: The lack of symptoms does not mean that you are not ill. Stress is abundant and all types: mental, emotional, physical, financial, good, bad and indifferent will lead to adrenal dysfunction. Prevention is key.