adrenal system | Adrenal fatigue

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrom (CFS), which is also sometimes referred to as adrenal fatigue syndrome, is collection of associated signs and symptoms.  It is the nature of “syndromes” that they do not neatly to fit into a concise/distinct or discrete disease classification.  This is often the case because either the cause is unknown or because there are a combination of possible causes which make distinctions from other more specific diseases difficult.  The inclusion of a wide array of signs and symptoms that become associated with a syndrome also make it difficult.  There becomes a tendency among clinicians to view syndromes as a default diagnosis when a other diseases with similar signs and symptoms do not allow for a confident diagnosis.  I believe this is the case with CFS, as it is with many “syndromes” that are viewed with great skepticism by conventional medicine.  It would be difficult to accept a disease which is cannot be diagnosed with objective measurements such as imaging studies, laboratory tests, pathopneumonic signs or symptoms.  Fatigue cannot be a pathopneumonic symptom because it is common to so many other conditions.

People most susceptible to chronic fatigue syndrome are those who have experienced physical or emotional stress either intensely for a short period, or more moderately for a longer period.  Those most susceptible are people who do not have the ability to manage or compensate well with the stress, either by personality, genetics, lifestyle, or complicating health conditions.

When is fatigue just a part of Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) rather than being Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?  Since wide-spread muscle pain is a key and necessary part of FMS, the best short answer is that fatigue is not part of FMS when there is no wide-spread muscle pain.

Who knows how many people are affected by significant CFS and FMS, but all you have to do is look around to see why this seems to be an epidemic.  Life seems to becoming exponentially more stressful.

You may be experiencing CFS / adrenal fatigue if you regularly notice one or more of the following:

  1. Persisted fatigue even with plenty of sleep.
  2. Wake up not feeling rested.
  3. Feeling overwhelmed without really being overloaded.
  4. Slower recovery from illness.
  5. Increased junk food craving.
  6. You get dizzy often when rising quickly from lying or sitting.

The processes that take place in any chronic disease, from allergies to chronic infections to arthritis to autoimmune disease to cancer, place demand on your adrenal glands.  Any time a medical treatment includes corticosteroids, adrenal function will likely become at least temporarily compromised.  Corticosteroids imitate the actions of the adrenal glands and can cause a negative feedback loop which inhibits adrenal function if given if give for too long at too high a dose.

If adrenal fatigue happened suddenly and recently, then recovery is easier and more rapid.  If it occurred over a long period of time, then recovery takes more effort and time.  This can certainly be complicated  by continued presence of factors which may have contributed to cause or exacerbation of the condition.

What is the difference between adrenal fatigue and Addisons Disease?  While CFS / adrenal fatigue probably involves a diminished functioning of the adrenal glands due to acute or chonic over-taxation, Addisons is a more severe case of adrenal fatigue, which needs medical attention with prescription drugs to prevent serious harm.  Addisons disease can cause skin pigment darkening, dangerously low blood pressure, fainting, as well as loss of consciousness.

How I treat adrenal fatigue:

Some combination of hormone replacement, acupuncture, natural supplements, diet, and prescription medication.

Do you treat Addison’s Disease?  I will only treat Addisons when a patient cannot afford care from a board certified endocrinologist.