Support for Those Living with Adrenal Insufficiency

Related Conditions

Be sure to read our page Understanding Adrenal Insufficiency.

Below you will find some of the conditions which can or do cause adrenal insufficiency.  We’ve also listed some conditions which our members have reported often accompany their adrenal insufficiency.

There are approximately 60 conditions which can or do cause adrenal insufficiency so we have only listed a few.  Our list of confirmed conditions grows as we find more affected by adrenal insufficiency.

As you read and research on our site or others it’s important to note that Addison’s Disease is often referred to as primary adrenal insufficiency. We know this causes some confusion for many of you, but if you have AI but not Addison’s don’t overlook those articles.  More often than not what you read will be relevant and helpful. Always check with your physician before making any changes and be careful of “self diagnosis”.

Addison's Disease

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

From MedlinePlus.gov: Adrenoleukodystrophy describes several closely related inherited disorders that disrupt the breakdown (metabolism) of certain fats (very long chain fatty acids).

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.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

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.” CAH IS US provides many leaflets and explanations regarding congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Download a free children’s book about CAH from the MN Department of Health.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia Due to Steroid 21-Hydroxylase Deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline.

What is CAH?

Approach to the adult CAH patient

This is a valuable graphic for parents of adrenal insufficient children from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Craniopharyngioma

From Medscape Craniopharyngiomas are dysontogenic (involving abnormal cell and tissue growth and differentiation) tumors with benign histology and malignant behavior.

Cushing's

Some of the treatments used to cure Cushing’s can cause the patient to become adrenal insufficient.

From MedlinePlus.gov: Cushing syndrome is a disorder that occurs when your body has a high level of the hormone cortisol. Cushing disease is a condition in which the pituitary gland releases too much adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). The pituitary gland is an organ of the endocrine system.

Read more from the Mayo Clinic.

Approach to the Patient with Possible Cushing’s Syndrome

Treatment of Cushing’s Syndrome

Diabetes Insipidus

Mayo Clinic Diabetes Insipidus (DI) is not related to type 1 or 2 diabetes.  Rather DI is characterized by intense thirst, despite the drinking of fluids , and the excretion of large amounts of urine. Damage to the pituitary or hypothalamus can cause DI.

Hashimoto's

Mayo Clinic “Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple.”

Hypopituitarism and Panhypopituitarism

From 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.

Optic Nerve Hypoplasia

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. 

Pituitary Tumors or other Pituitary Problems

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.

Contact the Pituitary Network Association who’s mission is to support, pursue, encourage, promote and where possible, fund research on pituitary disorders in a sustained and full-time effort to find a cure for these illnesses. The PNA will disseminate information helpful to the medical community, the public and to pituitary patients and their families on matters regarding early detection, symptoms, treatments and resources available to patients with pituitary disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Pituitary Tumors

Prader-Willi Syndrome

NIH: Genetics Home Reference  Prader-Willi syndrome is a complex genetic condition that affects many parts of the body.  Pub Med article linking PWS to adrenal insufficiency.

Proopiomelanocortin deficiency

From the NIH: Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) deficiency causes severe obesity that begins at an early age. In addition to obesity, people with this condition have low levels of a hormone known as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and tend to have red hair and pale skin.

Sheehan’s Syndrome

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.”

Use of Steroids

Reuters  “After stopping steroids commonly prescribed for asthma and allergies, a significant number of people may experience signs of malfunctioning in the adrenal glands, a European study finds.”  Medscape …”chronic exogenous steroid use is the most common cause of secondary adrenal insufficiency”

Thyroid Conditions

NHS UK “People with Addison’s disease often have an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), where the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones.”

American Thyroid Association

Central hypothyroidism

Endocrine Web  A website with a huge amount of information on endocrine disorders with a focus Thyroid conditions.

Hypothyroid: At first glance this article will appear dense. If you’re having issues with your thyroid though, you owe it to yourself to scroll half way down the page to the summary. It points out the proper way to assess thyroid function and the many factors that may skew results.

This article explains the possible consequence of taking this thyroid medication without proper adrenal support.

Von Hippel-Lindau

NIH: Genetics Home Reference  Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome is an inherited disorder characterized by the formation of tumors and fluid-filled sacs (cysts) in many different parts of the body. VHL Alliance 

We have a problem.

250,000 Americans are diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency. 6,000,000 more are considered to be adrenal insufficient yet remain undiagnosed.

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