Generally, a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue comes from an adrenal fatigue test performed by a practitioner of alternative medicine. Despite this, followers of alternative medicine suggest that there are several tests able to detect the disorder that can be done either at home or in a laboratory. These include the iris contraction test, the blood pressure test, the white line test, and the hormone saliva test.
One adrenal fatigue test is known as the iris contraction test. During this test, an individual allows his pupils to dilate in a dark room. After this, he is instructed to shine a flashlight into his eyes and watch for the pupils to contract. It is said that in a person with adrenal fatigue, the pupil will contract for less than 30 seconds before dilating again, although the pupils in a person with normally functioning adrenal glands would remain contracted long after exposure to the light.
Another type of home adrenal fatigue test is known as the postural hypotension test, a condition that causes a drop in blood pressure that occurs in some people as they move from a horizontal position into a seated or standing position. Practitioners of alternative medicine advocate a link between this condition and adrenal fatigue. They argue that the higher the drop in blood pressure, the more severe the adrenal fatigue is.
An adrenal fatigue test known as Sergent’s white line test has also been commonly used to diagnose the disorder. During this test, an individual uses their fingernail or a spoon handle to draw a line across his midsection. It is argued that in a person with normal adrenal gland function, the line will immediately become red, but in someone with adrenal fatigue, the line will remain white and may increase in width.
Finally, hormone saliva tests are aimed at testing the levels of cortisol, an important adrenal gland hormone. Four different saliva samples are used to pick up the subtle fluctuating patterns in cortisol levels that blood tests are unable to detect. These tests can be performed at home and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include fatigue, anxiety, body aches, and insomnia. It is thought that adrenal fatigue is a weaker version of a condition commonly referred to by the mainstream medical community as adrenal insufficiency, sometimes known as Addison’s disease. This occurs when the adrenal glands in the body do not produce an adequate amount of the hormones necessary for the body to function optimally.
James Wilson coined the term adrenal fatigue in 1988. He believed that when the body is chronically stressed, the adrenal glands are unable to produce enough hormones to maintain feelings of well being and balance. This is different than a case of full-blown Addison’s disease where the body produces such an extremely inadequate amount of hormones that it is unable to carry out normal functioning. Sufferers of adrenal fatigue still enjoy a sufficient amount of hormones to carry out normal body functions, but they do not feel good due to slightly reduced hormonal levels. Wilson argued that traditional blood tests used to detect adrenal insufficiency are unable to pick up on the more mild hormonal insufficiencies that characterize a case of adrenal fatigue and so he created the tests outlined above.