While certain symptoms your child experiences may provide clues for a simple and quick diagnosis, vague symptoms can be harder for you to identify. Although you may have heard about individuals having an illness called adrenal fatigue, MayoClinic.com advises that the term adrenal fatigue is not a true medical diagnosis. Instead, it is a term that some health books and alternative medicine practitioners use to describe a group of nonspecific symptoms.
Your child’s suprarenal glands, commonly called adrenal glands, are located above his kidneys. His adrenal glands work together with his pituitary gland and his hypothalamus, producing hormones that help control how his body metabolizes fats, proteins and carbohydrates. These glands perform numerous actions, including helping to control the flow of his blood to his brain and muscles while controlling his body’s response to stress.
The collection of symptoms used to define adrenal fatigue includes nervousness, sleep disturbances, body aches, fatigue and digestive problems. These vague, nonspecific symptoms resemble the complaints of individuals with adrenal disorders that can result in the medical diagnosis of Addison’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome. Adrenal disorders can also cause low blood pressure, unexplained weight loss, lightheadedness and a loss of body hair.
Certain disorders can affect your child’s adrenal glands and alter the amount of hormones they produce. Common conditions that disrupt adrenal activity include pituitary tumors, adrenal hyperplasia, adrenal tumors and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Addison’s disease is a condition that involves insufficient adrenal hormones, while Cushing’s syndrome is a condition characterized by excessive amounts of hormones.
Blood tests can measure the amount of adrenal hormones in your child’s body. Tests that show inadequate levels of cortisol may point toward the presence of Addison’s disease while results that indicate an insufficiency in adrenal hormones may be a sign of Cushing’s disease. While test results may indicate that your child’s adrenal glands are functioning normally, proponents of the adrenal fatigue diagnosis claim that blood tests aren’t sensitive enough to pick up slight variations that may cause symptoms. Therefore, blood tests won’t offer a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue.
Notify your doctor if your child experiences any unusual or unexplained symptoms. While medical tests won’t confirm a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue, they may pick up the underlying cause of your child’s symptoms. MayoClinic.com warns that accepting a medically unrecognized diagnosis, such as adrenal fatigue, may cause you to ignore the true cause of symptoms, such as fibromyalgia or depression.