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What the Yuck: I'm tired all the time
December 4th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

What the Yuck: I'm tired all the time

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: I keep reading about a problem called “adrenal fatigue.” How can I tell if I have it or if it's something else?

Well, there’s some debate as to whether this even exists. There is a condition called adrenal insufficiency, or Addison’s disease, in which your adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones, and you’re left feeling extremely fatigued - even light-headed and achy. A blood test can diagnose this.

Adrenal fatigue, on the other hand, is a catchall term used to describe a milder form of insufficiency that can’t be detected by blood tests.

The symptoms linked to it include aches, nervousness, and sleep and digestive problems, in addition to fatigue. But it isn’t a recognized medical diagnosis, and for good reason: There’s no scientific proof that slightly low levels of the hormones produced by your adrenal glands, such as cortisol, cause these symptoms.

If you feel inexplicably tired, see your doctor to find out if it’s a sign of a real health issue, such as a thyroid problem or depression.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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