THE HORMONAL CONNECTION: THE ADRENAL GLANDS - DIAGNOSIS
How do doctors diagnose suboptimal adrenal function? First, a medical history is taken, with particular attention paid to low-energy states, particularly in the morning. Typically, a person with low adrenal function will sleep eight, nine, or even more hours, and then, upon awakening from a good night's sleep, will still feel tired in the morning.
Another sign of subpar adrenal function is low blood pressure. Specifically, the Raglan blood pressure test is used. The patient lies down on a table for approximately five minutes and rests, and the blood pressure up, and the blood pressure is retaken in the vertical position. In is taken in this horizontal position. The patient then rapidly stands the normal, healthy person, the systolic blood pressure (the upper number) will rise. But the person with suboptimal adrenal function will have blood pressure that stays the same. And if the adrenals are severely sub-optimal, the systolic number will actually decrease. Also, on occasion, a patient will get dizzy and need to rest for a period of time.
Blood tests also can be performed to check adrenal function. Or salivary levels of adrenal hormones can be taken, a method that allows for a more exact diagnosis of hypoadrenal function. The salivary analysis technique also enables multiple samples to be taken throughout the day, week, or month, and can be used to reveal other hormone levels as well.
Complementary physician Martin Feldman of New York City notes that in our culture, those with lowered adrenal function tend to reach for caffeine. A common cry is "I need my coffee to get me going in the morning!" While people with suboptimal adrenal glands may get by on coffee for years, in the long run this substance will only exacerbate an adrenal problem. Caffeine is irritating to the adrenal glands and, thus, prevents them from healing properly. A greater problem with coffee is one of chemical dependency. Caffeine is a chemical that causes addiction to the extent that those giving it up can be in withdrawal for weeks. As Feldman explains, "People with coffee addictions are getting the immediate energy, but in the long run this is going to lead to suboptimal adrenal function and eventually hypoglycemic tendencies, as well as potential food allergy problems, and thyroid problems." Part of obesity prevention, then, is getting off coffee. While coffee has many deleterious effects, the most pertinent one for obesity is its relationship to hypoadrenal function.