Adrenal Fatigue/Low Cortisol Result


QUESTION: Hi there.
I am a 26 year old female. In April 2008 i was admitted to hospital with the following symptoms: cold shivers, disorientation, nausea, faintness, confusion and low blood pressure. I was menstruating at the time.

When taken to hospital, all my vitals seemed fine but the early morning blood test for cortisol levels showed that i had very low cortisol levels. The doctor who was treating me told me to have an ACTH stimulation test, which required going to another clinic elsewhere. I made an appointment for 3 days later. I spent one night at the hospital and had felt all the symptoms previously described. I was discharged from hospital, still felt dizzy, confused and nauseous so i went to stay with a relative for a while because i was so out of it in my head. Two days after being discharged, i had the worst headache of my life. It was the most blinding, throbbing pain imaginable and lasted over a day, i could barely stand up to shower and was too weak to even blow dry my hair on my own. The next day, the headache was better but I still felt confused and disorientated. I then went for the ACTH stimulation test. Much to the doctors surprise - the test came back perfectly normal. All Adrenal and pituary function seemed fine. Mild confusion and irritablity continued for a few days and since then i have not had a similar incident. The doctors were all vey surprised at the normal result and couldnt tell me what had caused my hormone levels to dip and then normalize by itself. Any idea what happened?? I am asking this now, after all this time, because, it perplexes me how i got no real explanation. Did i have an adrenal crisis? I have to add that I am a very stressed person. I feel stressed even when there is no reason to be. I feel i may have some type of anxiety disorder as well..not going into that now. Anyway, can you perhaps give some idea why this happened and how it can occur that my adrenal glands righted themselves? I had never taken steroids or had any injuries to the head. I did not have any infectious illnesses or physical stressors at the time either.

ANSWER: You have a great question and it's great you are still exploring the adrenal fatigue option.  Personally, I have found the best test to be a 12 hour cortisol along with DHEA to check for adrenal fatigue. This is what my doctor uses and so to other health practitioners I know.  Cortisol levels vary throughout the day as well as change from day to day.  They will also change dramatically due to where you're at in your monthly cycle.

Many doctors do not feel the 12 hour test is necessary. Why, I don't know because of the fluctuation of hormone levels throughout the day. If you have any troubles finding a doctor in your area that will do the test, you may go to  This is how I found my doctor because sometimes they are like finding a needle in a haystack!

I have posted on my blog an audio that is an Intro to Adrenal Fatigue. The Burnout Questionnaire also is based on adrenal fatigue. You can find them at  Throughout the blog are many posts on adrenals as well.  

Do you still have symptoms?  Did they also check your blood sugar levels?  

Be well,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thanks for your reply and helpful suggestions. I have been having some symptoms for the past few days but not as bad as in April last year. Its so annoying - whenever i tell someone or a doctor, they tell me to take a pregnancy test! And I know i am not! Anyway, yes, they did take my blood sugar levels then but there didnt seem to be a problem with that. I did your Burnout Questionaire - scary! Unfortunately, its going to be tough to find a doctor who doesnt push this off as stress. In in South Africa, so, well, tough for me..
Thanks once again..  

You're welcome! The link I have you for Neuroscience ( is global.  I've called them because I work with people everywhere and they said they can do searches to see if they have doctors in a given area. Hope they have one near you because the tests really tells you what's going on.  The other option is to find a doctor in your area that does the 12 hour cortisol test. The ones that usually do that type of testing practice under titles such as Functional, Anti-Aging, or Natural Hormone Medicine.  

There is also good book out there by James Wilson called "Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Stress Syndrome" or an audio by Donna Gates on adrenal fatigue that can be found at

Good luck & be well!

Adrenal Fatigue

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Jen Crippen


I cannot answer questions that would give medical advice, diagnose, or treat people's hypoglycemia.


I have been a natural health practitioner in Illinois since 2001 and have educated thousands of people on nutrition and healthy living. Although, this did not prepare me for what happened in 2007 when I became very ill with adrenal fatigue and hypoglycemia. I have been able to correct my health issues working along with my doctors as partners on my team. I encourage people to go back to their doctors, get educated, and become empowered patients. I've gone to the school of hard knocks the my own health and feel obligated to share with others how I got better. Plus, my experience as and educator and author helps :)


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