Adrenal Insufficiency vs. Adrenal Fatigue: There Is A Difference Between The Two

The adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, produce a variety of essential hormones. When these glands don't produce enough of one or more of these hormones, a number of symptoms can result.

When people talk about adrenal deficiency, they may be referring to either the medical diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency, which can manifest as Addison's disease or adrenal fatigue, which is a term found in popular health literature but not a diagnosis recognized by the professional medical community.

Adrenal insufficiency, which is an actual medical term, refers to inadequate production of adrenal hormones due to disease. It can be diagnosed with a blood test and has symptoms such as fatigue, body aches, weight loss, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and hair loss.

Adrenal fatigue, which is not an accepted medical term, refers to a mild form of adrenal insufficiency caused by chronic stress. Proponents believe that it causes enough of a decrease in hormone production to cause symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances, and digestive problems, but the decrease is not great enough to be measured by existing blood tests.

Adrenal fatigue is a convenient explanation for a group of symptoms that may have an elusive diagnosis, but it is important to recognize that it is not an accepted medical diagnosis. While it is not necessarily wrong, there may be other known disorders like depression or fibromyalgia that also explain these symptoms.

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