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  • How do phase II and phase III differ in adrenal exhaustion?

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    Old 01-16-2006, 05:17 PM   #1
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    How do phase II and phase III differ in adrenal exhaustion?

    It is hard to find much information about adrenal exhaustion, but I have read a couple of things on the net about different stages of it. It says that in stage II, you overreact to everything and the cortisol levels are high. In stage III, the cortisol levels are low and the adrenals are exhausted and cannot keep up with the body's demands. It mentions an inability to handle stress, but how would that differ in one's reactions to stress from stage II? I feel like I overreact to the smallest thing, and I have a hard time calming down even after everything is ok. Sometimes I start shaking in response to stress. However, I also notice that I USED to feel better in the evening (like I got a second wind or something), but now I am just exhausted 24 hours a day! I cannot tolerate ANY exercise at all, and if I skip a meal I am so shaky, moody, and even dizzy that I had better get something to eat! Is my reactions to stress typical of stage III, although it also sounds like stage II? The rest of my symptoms sound like stage III to me. In addition, I have bad muscle and joint aches, low blood pressure, cold hands and feet, and twitching.

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    Old 01-24-2006, 12:52 PM   #2
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    Re: How do phase II and phase III differ in adrenal exhaustion?

    I can't wait for someone with knowledge of this to respond, cause I sound alot like you.


    Old 01-28-2006, 08:13 AM   #3
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    Re: How do phase II and phase III differ in adrenal exhaustion?

    Dear friends,

    I think the reason you may not have gotten answers on this board is that people tend to separate Adrenal insufficiency or Addison's or secondary Addison's from adrenal exhaustion. There are even those who argue about whether adrenal exhaustion (usually putting forth the idea that adrenal glands can be temporarily exhausted but then recoop and get better) is disputed by many. There are doubtless many who think this is a phenomenon that occurs, but there are also probably MORE who believe that these signs and symptoms are merely what occurs prior to complete adrenal failure. So many are afraid or reluctant to speak about your topic "adrenal exhaustion". I know, because I was trying to figure out whether you could have temporary exhaustion and recover or not, too, for my son's sake. He shows the early signs, as you two do, but is not tan, nauseaed or experiencing an actual adrenal CRISIS. What blood or urine tests, if any, have you had? You mention wanting to know the stages, but it seems that no matter what stage, the diagnosis would be very helpful to you. Have you had a morning cortisol draw done (blood)? Or a 24 hr. urine cortisol (which some doctors do)? Have you had an ACTH stim test? Have you ever had a thyroid panel done, taken your temps in the morning, had blood tests of your potassium, sodium, renin, aldosterone, ACTH in plasma, MRI of pituitary or adrenal glands? These with some other tests might be advisable. Some of the feelings you describe suggest hypoglycemia (which is common with adrenal malfunction, as well) and/or diabetes (probably hypo.). All of your symptoms are VERY indicative of low cortisol, no matter what stage of adrenal or pituitary weakening. I think the tests would help you more than identifying the stage of adrenal functioning you are in, if I may say so. ~ Tracy

    Old 02-13-2006, 11:48 AM   #4
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    Re: How do phase II and phase III differ in adrenal exhaustion?

    Well then, that explains why there is less on adrenal exhaustion on this board than I was hoping for - and that makes sense, I think. Let's identify this disorder, for purposes of this post, as secondary hypoadrenia, in which full recovery is possible. Because adrenal exhaustion is a fairly common secondary condition to hypothyroidism, you will find some information, though limited, on that board.

    Ok, I'm not the most knowledgeable, but I'll attempt to explain a little more, on top of Tracy's post, if that's ok.

    In adrenal exhaustion, typically, the adrenals have been working over-time for years due to chronic stress - stress, meaning mental/emotional, allergies, illness, surgery, etc.... not just mental/emotional. The adrenals can only do this for so long, before they get exhausted. There is also some evidence that they can sort of get stuck in a hypo state from this exhaustion. Generally (I think) it is possible to recover from this exhaustive state, over the course of several months to a few years, give the right environment, nutrition, stress reduction, illness and allergy reduction, etc.

    Because adrenal exhaustion is not full-blown adrenal failure, the testing needs to be more sensitive. A single blood test, or a 24 hour urine collection is not suitable to diagnose adrenal exhaustion. The best method for this is the 4 collection saliva test, taken over the course of one day, at morning, noon, evening and midnight. This will show how your cortisol output compares to what is normal for that time of the day. The blood or urine test above, will only average the day out. It is common with this disorder, to have normal output in the morning and midnight, for example, and low output during the day.

    I would first, however, have some of the other tests Tracy mentions, to rule out other causes. The ACTH stimulation test, for example. Most of these tests are not uncomfortable, and are easy to have done.

    I would also suggest having your thyroid hormones testes. Generally only TSH is tested. This is a useful screening test, but inadequate if you do have hypothyroidism. If so, you will need free T3 and free T4 (not the same as total T3 and total T4), and also TPO and TG antibodies (but this isn't the thyroid forum is it?).

    How that helps .... my apologies in advance, on my lack of full adrenal knowledge.
    My opinions only, not medical advice. Always follow advice of your Doctor, not what I say here.

    Old 04-02-2006, 07:23 AM   #5
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    Thumbs up Re: NO ADRENAL GLANDS

    No Adrenal Glands.

    I read your message and picked up on adrenal exhaustion! I can't really answer regards to your symptoms but would like to tell you that I had my adrenal glands removed 23 years ago. I lead a perfectly normal life on Hydrocortisone and Fludrocortison. I also went on to have 3 more children. I travel a lot and dive. If you would like to get back to me for any further info on my oersonal experience I would be happy to hear from you


    Last edited by anyahalmane; 04-02-2006 at 07:33 AM. Reason: wrong title

    Old 04-13-2006, 07:32 AM   #6
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    Re: How do phase II and phase III differ in adrenal exhaustion?

    I have no adrenal glands. Removed several years ago. Has anyone else out there had same operation??

    Old 04-13-2006, 09:17 AM   #7
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    Re: How do phase II and phase III differ in adrenal exhaustion?

    I know 5 women who have had their adrenals removed because of Cushings. We meet for lunch every few months in the Portland, Oregon area.


    Old 04-19-2006, 02:38 PM   #8
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    Re: How do phase II and phase III differ in adrenal exhaustion?

    Hi, I'm new here. I have Adrenal exhaustion (I think). My blood pressure is always low-like 75/54 for example. I cannot stay awake. I've fallen asleep while talking on the phone I am on 4-5 cortef a day and florinef yet this goes on and on. I have had chronic pelvic pain for 24 yrs. (beginning after a c-section) and last year was stressful in almost everyway. I am hypothyroid but after beginning the right med., got better right away. Now, I am having memory blackouts and my bowels have almost come to a screeching halt. This has been going on for months now and I am getting nervous. Help out there, anyone? Thanks.

    Last edited by jksmac; 04-19-2006 at 02:41 PM.

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