Adrenal insufficiency happens when the adrenal glands of the body are unable to produce normal quantities of adrenal hormones. This condition normally categorized into two types:
- Primary adrenal insufficiency – When the condition is caused by a damage or impairment in the adrenal glands, it is classified as primary insufficiency. In most cases, the cause is autoimmune, and this is termed as Addison’s disease.
- Secondary adrenal insufficiency – When the condition is instead caused by the impairment of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, the insufficiency is secondary.
Whether primary or secondary, this study reminds us that it’s important to know how to spot the condition, because proper and immediate treatment could be life-saving.
Signs to Watch Out For
The National Endocrine and Metabolic Disease Information Service mentions a number of signs and symptoms that people need to watch out for, and among them are chronic fatigue, appetite loss, weight loss, and muscle weakness. Other symptoms include vomiting, a sudden craving for salty food, irritability, and even hypoglycemia.
It’s worth noting that these symptoms are actually not normally alarming, and this is why it’s actually quite difficult to pinpoint adrenal insufficiency as a condition in its earliest stages. After all, the mentioned symptoms are the same symptoms for a lot of other diseases. Most of all, these symptoms tend to progress very slowly.
The goal is to ensure that adrenal insufficiency doesn’t progress into an adrenal crisis, which is life-threatening and can really cause death when treated too late. Emergency treatment is needed to stop the condition from escalating into an adrenal crisis or worse, death.
Understanding the Causes
As with all diseases, it’s also important to understand why the condition happens in the first place. While Addison’s disease is usually caused by autoimmune disorders, there are also other infections, related diseases, and even medications that could trigger the disease. Sometimes it’s inherited, and sometimes it could even be caused by a number of things such as tuberculosis, which is a disease that’s known to cause damage in the adrenal glands.
Other viral, bacterial, and even fungal infections could also lead to adrenal insufficiency. In some cases, being exposed to the Cytomegalovirus especially when you have a very weak immune system could trigger the condition.
For secondary insufficiency, the condition can be caused by a number of things, especially when there are changes in the pituitary gland. For instance, when pituitary tumors are surgically removed, this could lead to hormonal disorders. A sudden loss of blood flow to the pituitary gland or radiation treatment to neighboring tumors could also be problematic.
Diagnosis and Treatment
While it’s difficult to diagnose adrenal insufficiency especially in the early stages, the condition can be confirmed via hormonal blood and urine tests. These tests determine whether your cortisol levels are too low, and when they are, they usually order imagine studies of your adrenal and pituitary glands.
To treat adrenal insufficiency you need hormones, but in the earlier stages especially, you can also opt for supplements such as Adrenal Boost – known to improve adrenal function and energy.