How is Adrenal Insufficiency Diagnosed?
A physician must perform certain tests to confirm a diagnosis. We understand that for some a diagnosis is hard to obtain. Several of our members took months or years to receive a diagnosis. Although there are many conditions which can lead to adrenal insufficiency the cause of your AI may not be known. Although many physicians can make the diagnosis, in our opinion, your best chance is with an endocrinologist who has experience with adrenal insufficiency..
How is Adrenal Insufficiency Treated?
Just as some people with diabetes take insulin to live, people with adrenal insufficiency must take cortisol replacements (steroids) to live. Oral steroids such as prednisone, prednisolone, hydrocortisone, fludrocortisone, and dexamethasone are taken throughout the day. Dosing depends on weight and type of medication used. Many patients have found success using the Circadian Rhythm. There are also some cases in which a patient is better served by use daily injections of hydrocortisone or a subcutaneous pump.
Can I Treat Adrenal Insufficienty Naturally?
While herbs, supplements, and/or a special diet may help a patient feel better, they cannot “cure” adrenal insufficiency and should not be used without consulting with your physician. Adrenal Insufficiency is life threatening and treatment should not be delayed.
Will I Ever Feel Better?
Once diagnosed, health can improve dramatically as you can see from the photos of Anastasia. However, adrenal insufficiency is a chronic condition that can pose many challenges. Although they may look “normal” those with adrenal insufficiency often suffer from symptoms that seem invisible to coworkers, family and friends.
conditions that may cause adrenal insufficiency
There are numerous conditions which can or do cause adrenal insufficiency. Most of them are rare.
We have listed some of the most commonly seen in our group. This list is by no means complete!
From the Mayo Clinic: Addison’s disease is a disorder that occurs when your body produces insufficient amounts of certain hormones produced by your adrenal glands. In Addison’s disease, your adrenal glands produce too little cortisol and often insufficient levels of aldosterone as well.
Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) and adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN) are important potential underlying diseases to consider in boys and men with primary idiopathic (unexplained) adrenal failure/Addison’s Disease where adrenal antibodies cannot be detected and there is no other obvious cause of adrenal failure. Link between ALD and AI.
ALD is responsible for about 1/3 of all cases of juvenile adrenal insufficiency. ALD is a rare, debilitating neurological disease that leads to childhood death in about a third of patients. Often, one of the first symptoms is adrenal insufficiency. Screening patients presenting with adrenal insufficiency (especially juvenile ones) for ALD could be significantly increase the correct diagnosis of this disease. Sanjay S.P. Magavi, Ph.D.
Visit ALD Connect for more information.
NORD: Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a group of rare inherited autosomal recessive disorders characterized by a deficiency of one of the enzymes needed to make specific hormones.” We recommended the website CAH IS US. They provide many leaflets and explanations regarding congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
The treatment for this condition can cause one to become adrenal insufficient.
Cushing’s Support and Research Foundation: Cushing’s syndrome is an endocrine or hormonal disorder. It occurs when the adrenal glands release too much of the hormone cortisol into the body for long periods of time.
Cortisol is essential to many of the body’s cardiovascular and metabolic functions. But perhaps its most important job is to help the body respond to stress.
Normally the adrenal gland releases the exact amount necessary to meet our daily needs. However, sometimes the process goes wrong and an excess of cortisol is produced.
The malfunction may be caused by:
- A pituitary tumor, which causes the pituitary gland (at the base of the brain) to stimulate the adrenal glands to secrete high levels of cortisol.
- A tumor of the adrenal gland (located above the kidney).
- A benign or malignant tumor of the lung or some other organ.
- Prolonged use of cortisone drugs, such as Prednisone, commonly prescribed for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center The pituitary is a small gland located at the base of the brain. It is referred to as the “master gland” because it controls many hormones. The pituitary produces hormones that are needed for normal body functions.
When you do not have two or more of the pituitary hormones, it is known as hypopituitarism (hahy-poh-pi-too-i-tuh-riz-uh m). The lack of all pituitary hormones is known as panhypopituitarism.
Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles: Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH) is the under-development or absence of the optic nerve combined with possible brain and endocrine abnormalities.
National Cancer Institute: A pituitary tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the pituitary gland.” Information on the types of Pituitary Tumors and how they affect the body.
Mayo Clinic: Sheehan’s syndrome is a condition that affects women who lose a life-threatening amount of blood or who have severe low blood pressure during or after childbirth.