Adrenal Insufficency

Adrenal insufficiency (Or and empty Adrenal bank account if you will) (AI) occurs when the outer layer of the adrenal glands, or the cortex, does not produce enough steroid hormones. There are two main types of AI. Primary adrenal insufficiency - also called Addison’s disease - occurs when the adrenal glands do not make enough hormones, primarily Cortisol.

Secondary adrenal insufficiency is when the pituitary gland in the brain does not signal the adrenal glands to make hormones, primarily Cortisol. Secondary AI is much more common than Primary AI, but both types are considered rare.

Common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include fatigue, weight loss, decreased appetite, muscle weakness, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, low blood glucose, and darkened skin. The main goal of treatment for people with adrenal insufficiency is to maintain a proper level and balance of hormones. Balancing our hormones may include taking hormones daily and carrying extra hormones with them at all times in case of an emergency. It is essential to carefully manage the disorder because, without proper treatment, a person could experience a life-threatening adrenal crisis. It is often frustratingly hard to find and maintain a useful course of treatment. This area demands new solutions.

One of the primary concerns for someone with AI is a sudden or severe drop in their cortisol level. The body produces Cortisol to respond to stress. Cortisol is also essential in maintaining blood pressure and cardiovascular function, slowing the immune system’s inflammatory response, balancing the effects of insulin in breaking down sugar for energy, and regulating the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Because of this, a significant drop in Cortisol can have severe and life-threatening effects on the body. This drop-in Cortisol can lead to an adrenal crisis, and a person with AI must keep a close watch on their stress level and its functioning at all times to prevent this type of medical emergency.

There are several resources available to provide information and support to people with adrenal insufficiency. Many of these organizations also aim to raise awareness about this rare condition. Please let us know if we can help you!