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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Could my daughter have symptoms of adrenal fatigue?

    My family has thyroid issues. My daughter has mood swings, depression, fatigue and failing eyesight (within one year).

    She is in year 12 and working as hard as she can but is struggling. She has pelvic pain and dizziness and she feels as if she is useless.

    She is on 50mg of oroxine but her latest TSH is 5.0. She feels as if people think she is pretending or exaggerating her illness.
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    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    Writing as a scientist, not a health professional, my understanding is that “adrenal fatigue” is a term which is used by some practitioners of alternative medicine - it is a vague and probably fictitious diagnosis which is not used by evidence-based health professionals. See and and links therein for more about this.

    I suggest that your daughter gets a full check-up. Her high TSH levels might be a consequence of thyroid issues (maybe Hashimoto's thyroiditis), or possibly pituitary gland issues. A full clinical investigation should help here. 

    All the best.

  • 1


    Nathan Butler

    Exercise Physiologist

    Nathan Butler is an exercise physiologist and founder of the multi-disciplinary Active Health Clinic whom specialise in chronic health especially Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, orthostatic intolerance … View Profile

    I would agree with Simon that ‘adrenal fatigue’ is not a medical diagnosis used by evidence based allied health practitioners and that she should have a full checkup by your GP. If these are clear and her TSH levels are normal then I would consider looking at investigating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or orthostatic intolerance which can be defined by clinical diagnostic criteria (as often these can be described as ‘adrenal fatigue’).
    Good luck,


    HealthShare Member

    What is the difference between “Adrenal Fatigue” & Cushings Syndrome?

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    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    As I noted above, Adrenal Fatigue is a vague term used by some alternative medicine people (see the links that I provided for details).
    Cushing's Syndrome is a consequence of excess levels of  a hormone called cortisol in the body. Cortisol can be prescribed by evidence-based health professionals for many reasons - a possible side-effect of this is that excess levels can lead to Cushing's Syndrome - decreasing the dose is usually effective in these cases.
    Cushing's Syndrome can also arise from tumours in the adrenal glands (which make cortisol) or in the pituitary gland (which indirectly controls cortisol production). Surgical removal of the tumour is often effective in these cases.
    See's_syndrome and for more information.

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    Dr Richard Beatty

    GP (General Practitioner)

    Brisbane GP With Special interest in Complex Medical, Men's health, antenatal, paediatrics. Skin Cancer Clinic Designated Aviation Medical Examiner Specific interests in Vasectomy, Dermatology & … View Profile

    I agree with Dr Easterbook-Smith. Sometimes, GP's are asked to check for an underactive adrenal gland but such tests invariably come back normal (The proper test involves an injection of steroid and doing a blood test afterwards). It's worth mentioning, also, that fatigue is very common and it can be helpful to have tests if only so that everyone can accept the fatigue in its own right and look at how to manage that (and the other symptoms). I see a lot of adolescent kids who struggle with a mixture of things like school life (friends, facebook, homework) and stresses outside school, and it might be worth gently exploring that (I appreciate it's a sensitive area but must be mentioned). Whilst I'm often relieved to find a medical “cause” , the truth is that a medical cause not often explain these type of symptoms (The orthostatic blood pressure should first be checked by doing a proper lying and standing blood pressure) but medical causes do need excluding.

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    HealthShare Member

    She had blood tests earlier in the month which only now have come up positive for whooping cough. I'm sure this has a lot to do with the tiredness etc.

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