Adrenal fatigue is a term that's used by some to say that fatigue and other symptoms are caused by a poorly working adrenal gland in people who are under mental, emotional, or physical stress. But it's not a proven medical condition.
Your adrenal glands make hormones. One of these is cortisol, which helps your body deal with stress. According to the adrenal fatigue theory, if your life is too stressful, your adrenal glands may not pump out enough hormones, leading to a wide variety of symptoms. But there's no evidence to support this theory.
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All of these can affect your energy level without involving your adrenal glands.
Fatigue is also a symptom of many diseases such as anemia, arthritis, diabetes, and heart failure, says Janet McGill, MD. She's a hormone specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.
Medical Conditions That Affect Adrenal Glands
Your adrenal glands sit atop your kidneys like caps. Certain conditions can keep your adrenal glands from working well.
One of these is Addison's disease. It's sometimes referred to as primary adrenal insufficiency.
If you have Addison's disease, your adrenal glands don't make enough hormones. Unlike adrenal fatigue, this is an illness that doctors can test and recognize. In most cases of this disease, the adrenal glands have been damaged by the immune system.