Did Your Doctor Miss Adrenal Fatigue?

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Published Date:
04/30/2013
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Scott:  When somebody goes to the doctor with these symptoms, how often is adrenal fatigue misdiagnosed as a number of other conditions?

Dr. James Wilson: Luckily, not as often as it used to because there are more and more doctors being aware of it, but still very frequently. And so if we are talking about a mainstream doctor, who has not really taken the time to educate himself or herself about it, most all the time they would not recognize these symptoms. Because in addition to this, the tiredness that you get, you also get blood sugar irregularities, because cortisol, the major hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, or one of the major hormones secreted by the adrenal glands, also has tremendous impact on blood sugar regulation. And so, if they do not have enough cortisol, they also won't have enough blood sugar. So, they have many hypoglycemic or low blood sugar signs and symptoms. They'll become irritable and fuzzy headed, especially between meals or if they haven't eaten for a while. If they eat sugary foods, the blood sugar will go way up and then it will go way down, and when it goes way down, they'll get irritable and cranky, and forgetful and clumsy, and all kinds of other things that you can look up under hypoglycemia, low blood sugar.  Then so, they confuse a lot of times the hypoglycemia with the adrenal fatigue, if the doctors happens to pick it up. 

A lot of people with low adrenal function have low desire for sex or low sex function.  And that makes sense because, believe it or not, Scott, the adrenal glands secrete about 40 percent of a man's testosterone during normal adulthood, and over half of a woman's testosterone during her normal menstruation times, in her entire adult life. And of course, as we get into andropause for men and menopause for women, the adrenals become even more important in those sex hormones, having to take up some of the slack that the ovaries and the testes give off when they start to go down into the quiescence. So, in most cases, the medical doctor won't recognize it, unfortunately. On the other hand, once he or she has been educated, she will see it right away. They'll get it in the case history, they'll get it in the kinds of symptoms, they will get it when they do their clinical examination.  They'll know the right lab tests to do, and they'll be able to come up with a diagnosis, the same as any other diagnosis they would be doing.  They will go right through and check and see, yes, indeed, we have it in the case history, we have key signs and symptoms, we have clinical indications, we have laboratory indications. This is adrenal fatigue.

Scott: You touched on it a little bit, but what if it goes unchecked and untreated.  What can that lead to? You talked about the importance of blood sugar, if left, down the road, what can that lead to?

Dr. James Wilson: It can stay the same for decades, actually.  Or, it can gradually get worse.  In rare cases, someone might do something that might be able to take them back out of it again, but in most cases, it gradually gets worse. Usually not to the point of adrenal failure, because that is called Addison's disease, and that is usually brought on by an autoimmune disease or infectious state. But, it can get quite low to where it is difficult to carry on a job, or daily functions, to parent properly. People say their life is falling apart.  I have had patients that could not get up for more than 15 minutes a day.  I had one woman who talked to me in New Zealand, who said that she was so weak with adrenal fatigue, she couldn't even dress herself.  After taking the right supplements, and reading the book, then she was able to, two years later, to climb Machu Picchu.  I'm still in touch with this woman, and she is still doing wonderfully. 

I ran into a doctor in Sydney, Australia, when I was lecturing, and she told me she became so depleted with adrenal fatigue, she could not feed herself. She was 70.  And her husband had to feed her for a week or two before she finally started recovering. She took her supplements and she read the book, and she was able to recover.  When I saw her, she was now able to lead a normal, non-physician life.  In other words, she hadn't gone back into practice again, but she was now able to be up all day and only rest a couple of times during the day, which is phenomenal compared to where she used to be.  And mind you, this was without drugs. This was simply using natural therapies, lifestyle, exercise, and doing the things that it says in the book.

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Adrenal fatigue can sometimes be diagnosed as something completely different. Dr. James L. Wilson discusses how this happens and why it's sometimes missed. He also describes what may happen down the road if adrenal fatigue goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

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