Adrenal Insufficiency Symptoms & Treatment

Adrenal Insufficiency Symptoms & Treatment
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What is Adrenal Insuffciency?

Adrenal insufficiency is a hormonal or an endocrine disorder that happens when the adrenal glands do not release sufficient quantities of hormones for the body. This means that the body is not producing enough adrenal hormones.

The adrenal glands release cortisol, a hormone which is released in response to low blood sugar, and as part of the stress response. Aldosterone helps regulate the salt and potassium content in the body.

When the body has inadequate adrenal hormones, your body will fail to support vital life functions. Cortisol and aldosterone are some of the hormones the adrenal glands can fail to produce. Adrenal insufficiency can either be permanent or temporary.

When someone has permanent adrenal sufficiency, medications must be taken on a regular basis for life. Temporary adrenal insufficiency is usually caused by improper medication, stress, surgery, and infections. Fortunately, it is possible to alleviate the adrenal insufficiency symptoms by using the right procedures and getting the right treatments. The following information below shows how you can identify and treat symptoms of adrenal insufficiency.

Symptoms

The adrenal hormones help maintain vital life functions. When your body has a lack of adrenal hormones, you will feel likely sick. Stomach aches, frequent tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, unusual craving for salt, and frequent dizziness are common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends taking immediate actions if you are frequently experiencing these symptoms by contacting a doctor (see reference 1).

Treatment

In order to alleviate the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, you must take daily medications prescribed by your doctor to refill the body with the necessary quantity of hormones. These medications work by replacing or substituting the hormones the adrenal glands failed to produce.

The National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service recommends taking these medications orally about one to three times a day (see reference 2). There are numerous medicines (glucoticoids) that can replace cortisol produced by the adrenal glands.

The National Health Institute recommends hydrocortisone, dexamethasone, and prednisone to treat adrenal insufficiency symptoms. Fortunately, these drugs have almost no side serious effects. The worst side effect typically experienced is an upset stomach. If this does occur, doctors recommend taking the pills with meals to relieve the side effects.

Another treatment is an injection of the hormones. It is also best to perform the injection to a large muscle such as your thigh. The NIH recommends performing the injection on the dominant thigh. In other words, if you are right-handed it would be the right thigh, if left-handed, perform the injection on the left thigh.

References

National Health Institute, “Adrenal Insufficiency

National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service, “Adrenal Insufficiency and Addison’s Disease” Updated May, 2009

Ohio State University, “Adrenal Insufficiency

PENNSTATE University, “Adrenal Insufficiency” Updated October 31, 2006

New England Journal of Medicine, “Adrenal Insufficiency” Updated May 16, 2004