My ongoing battle with adrenal fatigue began to manifest even before I experienced the obvious onset of Hashimoto's/Hypothyroidism in early 2003. I began to notice months previous to diagnosis, that my tolerance for stress and my recuperative abilities, to spring back from hard physical activity, illnesses, excessive stressors etc.., was slowly diminishing. When my hypothyroid disease kicked in, the adrenal fatigue hit a peak of severity and the combination of the two really threw me for a loop.
The first Doctors I went to didn't investigate to find the thyroid disease and I was not being treated for it, so in the mean time I had to push myself incredibly hard just to keep going. I also had an extremely stressful job in property management at that time.
Finally at one point, the adrenal fatigue turned into severe "adrenal exhaustion" and I experienced a strange viral type illness that left me with severe hives (these resolved) and swollen neck lymph-nodes that are swollen to this day! This is also when my chemical sensitivities became much worse to caffeine chocolate, alcohol and stimulants of any kind. In other words I had developed increased multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS).
I finally demanded blood tests and as a result, was treated for diagnosed-hypothyroidism but the adrenal fatigue remained, re-occurring in flares of symptoms. Over time, I learned the difference between the symptoms of adrenal fatigue/exhaustion and thyroid symptoms. With adrenal exhaustion, I experience severe post-exertion malaise and it can take a couple of days sometimes to recuperate from hard physical activity.
I have since been treated for these health disorders and have seen significant improvement in them. I do still experience flares of symptoms, if I venture outside of a diet restricting stimulants or if I do not keep my stress levels under control.
It is my belief that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a type of adrenal exhaustion (one major aspect) and that adrenal fatigue can be a forerunner to it in some cases. The most well-established feature of CFS that you find in medical research (also fibromyalgia), is "low cortisol levels" and I do not believe this is a coincidence but something that makes sense because the main purposes of cortisol is regulating stress and controlling inflammatory responses in the body. Two of the doctors I have been treated by since 2003, also diagnosed me with co-morbid CFS.
The adrenals when low functioning, cause more allergy, viral and illness responses to occur, due to the adrenals role in immune system function, being greatly diminished. Cortisol is also our body's natural anti-inflammatory and so low levels give rise to joint & muscle pain and other inflammatory reactions in the body. All of these factors combined, contribute to the symptoms of adrenal fatigue and CFS and can add to the symptom struggles of hypothyroid patients who have these co-morbid conditions.