Failure to produce adequate levels of adrenal hormones can occur for different reasons. The problem may be due to a disorder of the adrenal glands themselves (primary adrenal insufficiency) or to inadequate secretion of ACTH by the pituitary gland (secondary adrenal insufficiency).
(Click Causes of Adrenal Insufficiency to learn more.)
Given the importance of adrenal gland hormones, people with adrenal insufficiency can have a number of different symptoms. The symptoms a person experiences will be affected by:
- The hormones that are deficient
- The level of hormone deficiency
- The cause of adrenal insufficiency
- Other stresses on the body.
In its early stages, it can be difficult to make an adrenal insufficiency diagnosis. After asking a number of questions and performing a physical exam, the doctor may recommend certain tests as part of making a diagnosis. These tests can include:
- ACTH stimulation test
- CRH stimulation test
- ACTH and cortisol blood levels
- Abdominal x-rays
- CT scan.
(Click Diagnosing Adrenal Insufficiency for more information.)
Treatment Options for Adrenal Insufficiency
In most cases, there is no adrenal insufficiency cure. However, the condition can be controlled with medications. Treatment for adrenal insufficiency involves replacing, or substituting, the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making.
Most people with this condition should expect to lead healthy lives with a normal life expectancy.
(Click Adrenal Insufficiency Treatment for more information.)