Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Adrenal fatigue is a name given to a variety of symptoms.

Adrenal fatigue is a name given to a variety of symptoms.
beginning of content

Adrenal fatigue

2-minute read

Has someone suggested that ‘adrenal fatigue’ is the reason you constantly feel tired? Adrenal fatigue is an interesting idea, but it is not an accepted medical diagnosis.

There can be many reasons why people feel tired all the time and therefore it is often not easy to pinpoint a cause.

What is adrenal fatigue?

The term adrenal fatigue is used by some people to describe a collection of symptoms, such as:

Your adrenal glands sit on top of each kidney. Their role is to produce hormones, including adrenaline and noradrenaline – both of which are used to prepare your body for fight or flight.

Supporters of the unproven theory of ‘adrenal fatigue’ claim it occurs when the adrenal glands are ‘burnt out’ from producing these hormones in response to stress. Certain conditions, such as the rare Addison’s disease, can prevent your adrenal glands from making enough hormones. The symptoms of Addison’s disease include fatigue, body aches, unexplained weight loss, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, loss of body hair and skin discolouration. Addison’s disease is recognised by doctors and can be detected through blood tests that show insufficient hormone levels. On the other hand, these tests are often normal in adrenal fatigue.

Other causes of fatigue

There are many causes of fatigue. It could be due to lifestyle factors such as:

There are many physical illnesses that cause unexplained fatigue. These include thyroid problems, diabetes, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, anaemia, kidney or liver disease, infections, heart disease or multiple sclerosis.

What are my options?

Generally, having a healthy lifestyle may help with relieving fatigue. Some self-help tips to try include:

  • getting enough sleep every day – most adults need 6-8 hours
  • reducing stress through activities you find relaxing
  • cutting down on alcohol
  • getting enough rest if you have been doing too much physical activity, or getting more active if you have been sedentary.

If you have unexplained fatigue or exhaustion that persists, see your doctor. Your doctor will probably ask you about your symptoms and run some tests to rule out other health problems. Treating an underlying issue, such as a low thyroid level, can help reverse fatigue.

Sources:

myVMC (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), Mayo Clinic (Addison's disease - Is there such a thing as adrenal fatigue?), Mayo Clinic (Fatigue)

Last reviewed: November 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Chronic fatigue syndrome - myDr.com.au

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) also calledmyalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or ME/CFS is a complex condition. Itcauses extreme fatigue, sleep problems, pain and other symptoms

Read more on myDr website

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) information | myVMC

Chronic fatigue syndrome refers to disabling fatigue and pain for six months or longer, often after flu-like illness. The cause is unknown.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Sleep

People with CFS are more than “just tired”. They suffer from an intense fatigue and exhaustion that won’t go away. Physical or mental activity can make their CFS symptoms worse.

Read more on Sleep Health Foundation website

Chronic fatigue syndrome: Dr Joe Kosterich | myVMC

Dr Joe discusses chronic fatigue syndrome, including diagnosis and management of the condition.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Chronic fatigue syndrome in young people | Raising Children Network

Chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis makes people feel tired all the time. Read how individual treatment plans can help with CFS symptoms.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Fatigue as an Occupational Hazard

Fatigue affects you mentally and physically.

Read more on Sleep Health Foundation website

Fatigue and arthritis Arthritis Australia

Fatigue is a feeling of both physical and mental tiredness

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Fatigue | enableme - stroke recovery and support

Fatigue is common after stroke, fifty percent of survivors in one study said tiredness was their main problem twelve months on. What can you can do to better manage fatigue

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Fatigue - Better Health Channel

Fatigue is a symptom, not a condition, but it can cause other symptoms including headache, appetite loss and poor concentration.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Fatigue - Musculoskeletal Australia (MSK)

Living with a musculoskeletal condition and pain can be physically and mentally tiring. Find out how MSK can help.

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo