Is Adrenal Fatigue a Real Thing?

Endocrinology, Medicine

Adrenal fatigue is a word for symptoms that people under long-term stress might feel.


Adrenal fatigue is a word for symptoms that people under long-term stress might feel: sleep problems, cravings, tiredness and fatigue, digestive issues, and body or muscle aches. The idea that long-term emotional or physical stress overworks the adrenal gland, causing an adrenal gland burnout, has not been proven, though. Adrenal fatigue is not considered to be a real diagnosis, and is based only in theory.

But for someone suffering from adrenal fatigue symptoms, the feelings are real.

What lifestyle or health factors can improve adrenal function?

Target your sleep cycle when you want to improve you adrenal fatigue symptoms.

The sleep cycle is the major lifestyle factor that can affect the adrenal gland. Abnormal sleeping patterns can directly and negatively influence your pituitary hormone ACTH, the hormone responsible for controlling the adrenal gland’s production of cortisol. There are also health factors that can affect our adrenal function. The most common cause of true adrenal dysfunction is medication. The use of steroids for inflammatory conditions or osteoarthritis can, over time, slow your body’s ability to make cortisol. Following closely with your healthcare provider can ensure your prescribed steroids are used sparingly and tapered appropriately. 

Tips for addressing adrenal fatigue symptoms.

  • Keeping normal sleeping hours is important to help prevent fatigue.  A regular sleeping pattern should help keep the circadian rhythm working normally.
  • Avoid supplements that are labeled as providing “adrenal support.” These over-the-counter supplements are not controlled by the FDA. If these medications were to contain cortisol-like hormones, they could actually suppress your body’s own cortisol if used for long periods of time.

For more information on adrenal fatigue.:
The Endocrine Society argues against adrenal fatigue as a real diagnosis as there has been no strong research.

Adrenal fatigue should not be confused with adrenal insufficiency, a rare medical condition which can be diagnosed in the lab. 
Adrenal fatigue should not be confused with Adrenal Failure.
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Last Modified: Jul 11, 2017 @ 1:53 am
About the Author

Chris Palmeiro D.O.

Dr. Palmeiro is Chairman of Endocrinology at the HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, he also serves patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Westchester Institute of Human Development in Valhalla, New York. He has a Masters of Science degree in clinical nutrition and is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine. His interests within the realm of endocrinology include nutrition support, obesity counseling and the progressive management of diabetes.

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Is Adrenal Fatigue a Real Thing?
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Is Adrenal Fatigue a Real Thing?
Adrenal fatigue is a word for symptoms that people under long-term stress might feel. But is this a real diagnosis? Learn about adrenal fatigue symptoms.
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