I was about fifty when I found out that I had Addison's disease. It was just after my daughter's wedding. I collapsed, was achy, could hardly move, was nauseous, dizzy, and very cold. I had no appetite, but lots of back pain, muscle cramps, depression, headache, eye pain and blurry vision, little night vision, and hot flashes (especially in the evening when I was more tired). It got worse. I began throwing up whenever I ate anything and couldn't sleep at all. After three days of this, I stumbled into my doctor's office. He looked at me and suggested that I try a little cortisone ( a low dose mild hydrocortisone, not the big guns - prenisone). I thought, "I'm going to be dead soon at this rate, Why not!). I immediately started to feel better.
Later we did more tests and it showed that I do not produce any detectable level of cortisone. Besides the blood test there are other tests for low adrenal function; saliva, pupil reaction, blood pressure upon standing, and temperature (cold).
(for tests see Adrenal Fatigue The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson under resources; Dr Wilson also has a website www.adrenalfatigue.org
My doctor explained to me that sometimes levels may look fine in our blood, but the hormone may not be getting into the cells and may not be utilized effectively. Unfortunately, they don't have a test to see what our cells are doing with the hormones and nutrients. Mainly we have to go by the body's response. When my body suddenly perked up after having some cortisone, that indicated that it was definitely something I needed. Over many years, we had tried all sort of vitamins and minerals, allergy treatments (I have lots of allergies and chemical sensitivities), treatments for some injuries, and many other things, but nothing made much difference until I tried cortisone and that was dramatic. Most doctors do not look for low adrenal function, so you have to insist on the tests.