Adrenal Insufficiency Treatment
Adrenal insufficiency treatment typically involves taking medications that replace, or substitute, the hormones that the adrenal glands are not producing. While cortisol is replaced orally with hydrocortisone tablets, the aldosterone hormone is replaced with oral doses of a mineralocorticoid. Adrenal insufficiency treatment is vital in the case of an addisonian crisis, which can be fatal if left untreated.
Adrenal Insufficiency Treatment: An Overview
For most causes of adrenal insufficiency, there is no cure. However, adrenal insufficiency can be controlled with medications. These medications are usually taken for the rest of a person's life. Most people with adrenal insufficiency should expect to lead healthy lives with a normal life expectancy.
Replacing Cortisol in Adrenal Insufficiency Treatment
Adrenal insufficiency treatment involves replacing, or substituting, the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making. Cortisol is replaced orally with hydrocortisone tablets, a synthetic glucocorticoid, taken once or twice a day.
Replacing Aldosterone in Adrenal Insufficiency Treatment
If aldosterone is also deficient, it is replaced with oral doses of a mineralocorticoid called fludrocortisone acetate (Florinef®), which is taken once a day. Patients receiving aldosterone replacement therapy are usually advised by a doctor to increase their salt intake.
Because patients with secondary adrenal insufficiency normally maintain aldosterone production, they do not require aldosterone replacement therapy.
Adrenal Insufficiency Treatment for Addisonian Crisis
For people with adrenal insufficiency, a stressful event like an illness or an accident can cause an addisonian crisis. In about 25 percent of patients, symptoms of adrenal insufficiency first appear during an addisonian crisis. Without addisonian crisis treatment, the crisis can be fatal.
(Click Addisonian Crisis Treatment for more information about treatments for addisonian crisis and ways to help reduce the risk of an addisonian crisis.)