What are my qualifications to direct any of you to better health? I am a girl who suffers from adrenal insufficiency and I'm healing after a maze of wrong and right turns. I have worked with over 40 physicians since getting ill a couple of years ago with a rare health condition called POTS Syndrome and have learned so much about adrenal fatigue through trial, error, research, and physician consults that I feel it is my duty to share with all of you what I am learning.
I am a patient of Dr. Joel Rosen, who has a fabulous Facebook page Adrenal Fatigue Recovery and his knowledge on the topic is beyond impressive. I also consult with Janie Bowthrope, author of Stop The Thyroid Madness and an entirely healed patient of adrenal fatigue.
The book is an absolute must-read for those with ill adrenal health. I have no connection to the book other than I read it (repeatedly) and pay for consults with the author who guides me in my own steps to recovery. It's the only book that I recommend to anyone with any health issue involving the endocrine system.
My hope is that you find the advice below unique and not entirely repetitive of what you have read to date. My hope is also that you realize the seriousness of the destruction adrenal fatigue can and will play in your life if you do not start early via treatment. I also hope you gain the knowledge quickly — if you do in fact suffer from adrenal fatigue — that you are most certainly dealing with more than one another health issue.
Adrenal Fatigue in and of itself is a "symptom" — a reaction if you will — to a deeper underlying health issue happening within the body that can be as simple as a change in diet or as complicated as Hypothyroidism, Dysautonomia or Lyme Disease. The list is long and you need to be well equipped when approaching your healing.
Below are the first 5 steps I'd recommend to anyone who may be suffering from adrenal fatigue:
1. Do not read an article on the internet, diagnose yourself, and begin experimental treatment with your adrenals.
While this may seem counterintuitive as you are currently reading an article on adrenal fatigue, please read on. Do not take advice from an article regarding supplements, medications, or diet without consulting with a qualified physician who either specializes in adrenal fatigue or is well-versed and experienced in treating it...period.
2. Read Stop The Thyroid Madness.
Or, if you cannot afford the book, go to the author's website StopTheThyroidMadness.com and click on the tab "What We've Learned." Pay close attention to the section "Ducks In a Row," which I found particularly helpful. This will help you (1) Identify a physician who is best to treat you, and (2) explain what you need to know going into the appointment. If I would have had this book at the beginning of my health crisis, I would have shaved a year and half off of healing.
3. Team with an integrative physician.
This is a doctor who specializes in both Western and Eastern medicine and thus combines a holistic approach with potential medications. I believe that this type of physician is best equipped to handle adrenal fatigue. You can also consider a functional medicine physician, which is a doctor trained to look at the body as a whole with an emphasis on searching for the underlying cause of your health deterioration rather than the symptoms.
4. Find out if you have adrenal fatigue.
There are two legitimate ways of finding out you have Adrenal Fatigue. You can do traditional blood work or your doctor can order a "24 Hour Adrenal Saliva Kit." (You can even order your own kit.) You want to do a 24 Hour Adrenal Saliva Kit, even though most doctors recommend a blood test.
To understand why I recommend the saliva test, it helps to understand a bit more about adrenal fatigue and its relationship to cortisol. If your cortisol levels are swinging wildly or flat, you have an adrenal problem. So it helps to be able to measure variations in cortisol throughout the day, which is what a saliva test does.
As explained in Stop The Thyroid Madness, "saliva testing will measure your cellular levels at four key times in a 24 hour period — revealing whether you have high cortisol (which can have similar symptoms to low cortisol), or a mix of highs and lows or a majority of lows, which is extremely problematic."
"Unfortunately, doctors tend to recommend a one-time blood test, or an ACTH Stimulation test, or a 24-hour urine test, but patients have found none to be adequate or complete measures to discern sluggish adrenals. Blood is measuring both your bound and unbound cortisol–not helpful, nor does it tell what goes on at different times during the day."
5. Work with a nutritionist or dietician in your doctor's office.
Your diet will play a huge role in your healing from Adrenal Fatigue. If your physician does not recognize that diet plays a huge role, get another doctor immediately. If your doctor does recognize the importance of diet in healing your adrenals but does not work with a nutritionis, find one that he or she will team with. Please take your diet as seriously as you are taking your fatigue!
I believe these are the very first five steps to take to addressing adrenal fatigue and if you take these steps, you are well ahead of where you would be with any other approach.