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How Inflammation and Infections Contribute to Adrenal Fatigue

Many conditions can cause and contribute to adrenal fatigue, but inflammation and infection are among the leaders. You’ll read about ways to test for these conditions. By diagnosing and treating these conditions, you're helping your adrenal glands by decreasing adrenal stress.

The basics: The ESR and the C-reactive protein

ESR stands for erythrocyte sedimentation rate. It's a blood test, and it's one of the first tests that healthcare practitioners typically order to get a sense whether someone is “inflamed.”

The normal range for this test is 0 to 20. Most chronic infections and inflammatory syndromes have abnormal sed rates that run in the 80 to 100 range. Note: This test is nonspecific; it just helps to confirm that there's badness going on without indicating what that badness is.

The test for C-reactive protein (CRP) is often ordered in conjunction with the ESR test to evaluate the presence of an inflammatory or infectious condition. CRP is a protein that reacts to inflammation. The normal range for this test is 1 to 3. It's not uncommon in the setting of inflammation or infection to have a level greater than 90.

How to test for rheumatologic and infectious conditions

Beyond the ESR and CRP tests, your healthcare practitioner may order more-specific tests to determine whether inflammation and infection are present. Some of the initial testing that many healthcare providers do includes searching for the rheumatologic conditions (connective tissue diseases). Here are some typical tests for these conditions:

  • ANA: Many docs use the anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) test to screen for rheumatologic conditions. If the test is positive, the patient needs further evaluation for conditions such as lupus (also known as systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE).

  • Anti-dsDNA: This blood test is used to evaluate for lupus.

  • Rheumatoid factor: This blood test may be positive in many rheumatologic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

  • Anti-RNP: This is a blood test for mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD), or Sharp's syndrome, in which the person has a little bit of each rheumatologic condition.

  • Anti-gliadin antibodies or tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG antibodies): These blood tests evaluate for the presence of celiac disease.

  • CPK: Creatine phosphokinase (CPK for short) is a blood test that's often ordered as part of testing panels. High levels of CPK often indicate some process causing muscle damage of some type.

Here are five tests for infections:

  • Lyme titer: This blood test looks for Lyme disease, a chronic infection that can be debilitating.

  • EBV titer (mono spot): This blood test is for mononucleosis. Viruses can be a root cause of incessant fatigue and weakness. For some people, mono takes months to recover from. Some doctors believe that some of this is due to weakened adrenal glands.

  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus): This blood test is good if the patient has certain risk factors for HIV, such as sharing needles and/or unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners.

  • Chronic respiratory infections: You may need a chest X-ray and sputum culture. With this test, the practitioner looks for specific organisms causing respiratory infections. Such infections need to be treated holistically (looking at all contributing factors) and aggressively.

  • Bone imaging: This includes X-rays and other imaging that may be needed to find osteomyelitis, a common type of bone infection. Osteomyelitis is usually due to diabetes.

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