Serum cortisol was high, but symptoms indicates low cortisol? Adrenal Fatigue

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Fismen
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 6/4/2013 11:58 AM (GMT -7)   
Here is a very short version of my background and buildup of symptoms:
Recently I found out I have had chronic GI-inflammation due to bad chewing since I was a kid. This lead to food intolerances that further increased the GI-inflammation.
When I started high-school, I started to get very dry eyes, dry mouth (low saliva was a problem when I was a kid too). I also didn't feel like myself, I had decreased mood, lower energy, decreased motivation, handled stress and social situations worse, stumbled to find words etc. At the same time I was playing soccer on a high level, exercising and playing matches every day. My symptoms got gradually worse, and I felt like I had this constant brain-fog. I also got a hip-injury due to prolonged stress on my hip. No one could figure out what it was, but I'm now pretty sure it's chronic inflammation in my hip. When I couldn't play soccer anymore, I began heavy weight training up to 5 times a week and began working as a construction worker. I started to eat huge amounts of food, and chew them worse than ever and flushed it down with water or milk. I had good progress in my training, and gained 10 kilos in 1.5 years, where the last 6 month was 5 hard workouts/week + hard days at work. Then, I crashed. After floating on this high of never-ending stress of working and exercising, I experienced extreme fatigue, extreme mental fogginess, completely unable to focus, palpitations, high pulse from nothing. I took some days off work and a few weeks of exercising, but the symptoms was still present to a small degree, and whenever I pushed it I would crash again.

It has now been 3 years since I crashed. I completed 1 year on college, but had to take this year off to sort out my health problems. I have addressed my digestion-problems, and GI-inflammation is kept to a minimum. However, when I couldn't workout anymore, I filled the void with online video-games. These games stressed me out a lot, (I get 150+ pulse in pressured situations and my body fires up all cylinders even though I'm sitting still in my chair trying to relax) and if I play for a prolonged time I feel bad for hours or days later. Stupid as I am, I ignored this and kept playing which probably halted my progress a lot.

The symptoms I'm currently stuck with at rest, are mainly: Clumsy, Brain fog, Can't concentrate, Restlessness even when tired, Bad memory, Confusion, Dizziness, Fatigue, Feeling better after 8 pm, Heart palpitations,
Hypoglycemia (not a problem after I started to eat ketogenic), Inability to focus, Blurry vision, Bad night vision, Inability to handle stress, Inability to interact with others, Irritable, Rage or sudden angry outburst, Overreacting, Paranoid, No patience, Worsening of symptoms after hard exercise (although I feel really good during and the first 2-3 hours after, then I crash), Worsening of symptoms after psychological stress, high and pounding heart-rate from small stress like walking up the stairs.

Symptoms during stress: high heart-rate, pounding heartbeat, "heavy-head", irritable, outbursts. However, I get better memory and clearer head, less clumsy and so on.
Symptoms after some hours after stress: Worsening of the symptoms at rest plus elevated HR and "heavy-headed"..

Other symptoms: Dark circles under eyes, Bags under eyes, Inflammation that doesn't go away, pale skin etc.

When do I feel better: Sometimes before bed (20.00-24.00) I can feel really good, more or less symptom-free. Also early in the morning, especially the first 30min-1hour.
The same happens sometimes during intense weight training, and 3 hours after. During this time I feel like its much easier to interact with others. I don't stumble to find words and I enjoy making conversations, something I normally don't do anymore.
However, about 3 hours after this good feeling, I get brain-fog, increased HR and pounding heart from low stress, fatigue, irritability and many other symptoms listed above.

I have done a lot lifestyle-changes and have made tons of progress (I have mainly completely eliminated the fatigue), but the last months I have been stuck with no progress.
The thing is, when I do no mistakes (no GI-flareup, no hard exercise, no mental stress), I get increased brain-fog, worse concentration, irritability and so on. But when I do mistakes, I usually get better mental alertness and better concentration, but I also get fatigue and more of a "heavy-head" feeling, increased HR, stressed out tec.

I have made a chart that explains the vicious cycle and the complexity of my symptoms. Im not saying cortisol is my problem, Im open for anything. Some days ago, I studied my daily logs and arranged all my symptoms, the order of my symptoms and how they appear according to each other. I then tried to find the "X" (its like an equation with constants and an unkown factor). The only thing I can put into this "equation" to make it work, is cortisol.
VIEW IMAGE

My theory is that when I do no mistakes, I get low cortisol because my body stores cortisol for emergencies only. When I do mistakes, my body secretes cortisol. Most of the low-cortisol symptoms goes away, but I get other symptoms related to GI-flareup, stress, sympathetic activation etc. And then, after some time I would end up with low-cortisol symptoms again.

I have experimented with licorice-root. It has improved my symptoms sometimes, but I often get side effects like pain behind my eyes (high blood-pressure caused by licorice?) and also feeling very warm.
The last 2 days I have tried 20g hydro-cortisone 1% creme taken 10g,5g,2.5g,2.5g. I felt like it helped, but the effect seemed to only last for about 30 minutes and it took 40-60 minutes after application before I felt it. 20g creme contains 200 mg hydro-cortisone, but I have no idea how much of this actually gets into my bloodstream. I know bodybuilders and other crazy people eat this cream, but I have no intension of trying that with my current GI-situation.

I have taken tons of blood-tests, and everything is fine. T4 18.9, T3 4.4, DHEA 9.3. However, when I tested my morning cortisol, it was 973 (norm 250-750). Before this test, I had a horrible 1h drive on snowy conditions which definitely stressed me out several times. When you slightly lose control of your car at 60-70 mph its hard to not get stressed out.

Does this description fit with adrenal fatigue? If so, stage 1, 2 or 3?

I have never seen direct proof that my cortisol is low, but according to all I have read on the internet, my current symptoms at rest fit low cortisol. However, when I was a kid and before my symptoms developed, I would actually say I had signs that could indicate high cortisol, probably caused by chronic GI-inflammation.

What do you guys think? Is this classic AF? I've considered tons of options, like depression, hyperventilation syndrome, candida, leaky gut, allergy, diseases etc etc, but the only thing I can put into the equation to make it right and can explain my situation is cortisol. The only thing I can think of that maybe dosent support low cortisol, is that Im almost never sick. Im actaully much less sick now, then when I was younger. I've had 1 cold in 4 or 5 years, and sore throat maybe 1-2 times in the same period. On the other hand, high cortisol supresses immune function, and low cortisol makes your immune system overactive. My guess is that my immuneystem is in overdrive catching everything before it gets a chance to develop.
I tried to keep it as short as possible, but that I can now see I failed... :P
Thanks for all replies in advance.

Post Edited (Fismen) : 6/4/2013 1:56:38 PM (GMT-6)


gregz52
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 6/4/2013 5:07 PM (GMT -7)   
Sounds like AF symptoms but I think you have something else going on. It could also be leaky gut syndrome with gluten intolerance, candida. I would Google Dr. Tent out of Michigan for a Skype appointment he specializes in autoimmume disease. Also check out his videos on Youtube.

Fismen
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2013
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 6/5/2013 12:43 AM (GMT -7)   
considering i have been on a ketogen diet without any starch, refined sugar and very little fructose for over 6 month, and before that taken a 1month anti candida diet, 28 days of flucanzanol and 1 month of nystatin + negative stool test for candida, I doubt thats my problem. I have leaky gut, I tested positive for intolerances on many foods incl. gluten and dairy. Havent eaten a gram of grains, dairy, nuts or other triggers for over 1 year, but the symptoms listed above remains unchanged.

Omron
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 9/17/2013 9:15 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi there Fismen. I have VERY similar symptoms to you and was wondering if you'd had any luck with getting to the bottom of it? I don't know whether you still use or check this thread, but if so then it'd be great to get in contact and discuss it with you. Maybe we could help each other.

If so perhaps you could reply here or message me via the forum.

Thanks.

Vitality Lady
New Member


Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 15
   Posted 9/18/2013 7:12 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Fismen:
 
I think there are a number of hormonal and chemical things going on but I think you are driving yourself crazy trying to figure it all out!
 
I would suggest moving towards a plant based, chemical free diet.  This will be most important.  Gradually add wheatgrass and sea vegetables over time as well for optimum nutrient absorption. Depending on where your diet is now.....take time doing this and eventually move to raw. Don't switch all at once.  Be aware that as this gets better, you may feel some negative symptoms (may get worse before it gets better) but they are good signs of healing and will not last long before you start to feel better.
 
Also, have you tried reducing your workout intensity and increasing durations (ie: lower weights, higher reps, less sets, fewer workouts).  This will put less stress on your body which is giving you some very clear messages that there are some things wrong and that overdoing exercise frequency and intensity could exacerbate your symptoms....which it looks like is already happening.
 
Have you tried meditation and / or guided visualization?  Such a great healer!  Give it a go!
 
I can see that you are receiving so many signs that your body is in trouble so be gentle, slow down and help it to heal and 'be happy'.  Focus now only on what you can do to heal and forget trying to analyse everything....you never will and neither will the Doctors!!  It's all about getting well now.
 
Good luck Fismen......you can do it!!!
 
Sue
 
 
 

username1
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2013
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/15/2013 11:19 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Fismen,

I REALLY hope you see this, as I just registered to reply to this thread.

Let me tell you, you sound like a clone of me, I have almost all your symptoms, plus more!

I have been ill with chronic fatigue plus a hundred other symptoms for about 4 years now, and for nearly a year I thought I had adrenal insufficiency. I actually was 99% convinced I had Addison's disease, despite how rare it is, because the symptoms fit to a T. Even the pathognomic skin changes. I came to the same conclusion as you, that all my symptoms pointed to a low cortisol state. And just like you, I finally got my cortisol tested (at 8am) and lo and behold, it was elevated, at just over the top of the normal range.

Was dumbfounded at that, but somewhat relieved to see that Addison's was effectively ruled out. I had been researching medical journals like crazy for months, and I know how horrible of a disease it really is.

Now I went back to researching and researching... a few months later, after a sudden onset of weird shortness of breath and cardiac symptoms, I finally came upon The One True Cause. I found my answer. Called Cedars-Sinai in L.A. and made an appointment. One month later the brilliant doctors there confirmed I did find the right answer: I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome type III causing Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

The Ehlers-Danlos itself causes me lots of physical joint and muscle pain, but really the worst symptoms come from the POTS. That's what really affects my day-to-day feelings. POTS has many causes; EDS is just one cause and it is not the most common one. POTS is much more common overall than EDS.

You can find a great overview of POTS on dinet.org. I bolded your symptoms here which really stand out as POTS-like to me.

" I filled the void with online video-games. These games stressed me out a lot, (I get 150+ pulse in pressured situations and my body fires up all cylinders even though I'm sitting still in my chair trying to relax) and if I play for a prolonged time I feel bad for hours or days later. Stupid as I am, I ignored this and kept playing which probably halted my progress a lot.

The symptoms I'm currently stuck with at rest, are mainly: Clumsy, Brain fog, Can't concentrate, Restlessness even when tired, Bad memory, Confusion, Dizziness, Fatigue, Feeling better after 8 pm, Heart palpitations,
Hypoglycemia (not a problem after I started to eat ketogenic), Inability to focus, Blurry vision, Bad night vision, Inability to handle stress, Inability to interact with others, Irritable, Rage or sudden angry outburst, Overreacting, Paranoid, No patience, Worsening of symptoms after hard exercise (although I feel really good during and the first 2-3 hours after, then I crash), Worsening of symptoms after psychological stress, high and pounding heart-rate from small stress like walking up the stairs.

Symptoms during stress: high heart-rate, pounding heartbeat, "heavy-head", irritable, outbursts. However, I get better memory and clearer head, less clumsy and so on.
Symptoms after some hours after stress: Worsening of the symptoms at rest plus elevated HR and "heavy-headed".."
"

Especially the elevated heart rate from walking up the stairs, and the video games thing (your body is at rest, but your mind sees stressful things going on, and your heart rate goes inappropriately high). That is EXACTLY what POTS does. My heart rate lying down is usually in the 80s but one time (for example) I was lying completely flat and watching one of the last few episodes of Breaking Bad and my heart rate went up over 120 during a very tense scene. Knowing it was just POTS, I found it kind of funny actually...

POTS also explains why cortisol is a bit elevated. It makes sense. Your body isn't pumping enough blood to the right places and your heart rate is too high. Your body is literally freaking out at this, so your adrenals try to compensate by shooting out extra epinephrine and cortisol. Have you ever had a panic attack? POTS basically mimicks ALL the physical symptoms of anxiety, even if you aren't mentally anxious. And if you are anxious, the physical symptoms intensify further. It's like a feedback loop. Surprise surprise, people who actually have POTS are almost always misdiagnosed with an anxiety/panic disorder first. Doctors love to say "it's all in your head" so they can settle on the easiest explanation.


To drive it home, here is a list of adrenal insufficiency symptoms. I have bolded the same symptoms seen in POTS.

general weakness
profound fatigue
lightheadedness
dizziness
orthostatic hypotension
(actually a separate condition from POTS, but often occurs alongside it)
rapid pulse (tachycardia) (the central symptom)
dark skin (first noted on hands and face)
black freckles
bluish-black discoloration around the nipples, mouth, rectum, scrotum, or vagina
weight loss
dehydration
loss of appetite
intense salt craving

muscle weakness
nausea
vomiting
diarrhea
intolerance to cold
sweating



So, the only thing I can't explain is skin changes, as they don't really have anything to do with POTS, but I don't think you mentioned those anyway.

Anyway, if you read this, or someone else comes along and reads this and has that lightbulb moment here's some advice for getting diagnosed. To actually get medication to control POTS a doctor will probably insist on doing a Tilt Table test first. This test is expensive because it is usually done in a hospital setting and really a few "orthostatics" tests (which can be done by a nurse in any doctor's office) should be plenty good enough, but blah blah ~insurance purposes~ B.S. or whatever. Unfortunately some doctors have not even heard of POTS, and even if they have heard of it may say they don't know enough about it and can't diagnose it. If you have a good primary care doctor (a.k.a GP) you can try your luck there, explain your symptoms emphasizing the dizziness and tachycardia and say you think you have POTS, maybe bring him/her some credible literature on it. If you're lucky they can order a TTT for you. Or if you are able, you can try to see a cardiologist to get a TTT. Another warning, don't assume all cardiologists know anything about POTS. You have to ask how experienced they are in diagnosing autonomic disorders, particularly POTS. Pray you don't get an a-hole who just tells you after the positive test result "whatever, just eat more salt". Yes eating/drinking a ton of salt and water does help but usually to control it effectively you need some type of prescription like beta blockers.

Well this has gotten really long and I ought to get going. I hope someone is helped by this. Just like you I was assuming there I must have some hormonal or biochemical deficiency, and if I just supplemented that it would go away. Now learning I have this particular chronic condition, EDS+POTS, there isn't a magical single pill that will help everything (like Addison's or hypothyroidism) and that's really sad. Though it is very complex there are many ways to manage it and it does get better, and I have hope I will continue to improve. I hope you see improvements too, whatever your root cause is found to be.

Post Edited (username1) : 11/15/2013 11:26:31 PM (GMT-7)

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