Endocrine System Home > Adrenal Insufficiency

People with adrenal insufficiency suffer from a malfunction of the adrenal glands, a condition in which the glands stop producing hormones that are important for certain bodily functions. There are two general types: primary (Addison's disease) and secondary. Symptoms of the condition include fatigue, weight loss, and muscle weakness. Treatment typically involves replacing the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making.

What Is Adrenal Insufficiency?

Adrenal insufficiency is a medical condition in which the adrenal glands stop making hormones important for certain bodily functions. The condition is characterized by weight loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, and sometimes darkening of the skin in both exposed and nonexposed parts of the body.
 
There are two general types of adrenal insufficiency:
 
This disorder occurs in all age groups and afflicts men and women equally.
 

Understanding the Adrenal Glands

There are two adrenal glands, one above each kidney in the back of the upper abdomen (stomach). The adrenal glands are also called the suprarenal glands. The inside layer of the adrenal gland is called the adrenal medulla. The adrenal medulla produces epinephrine (adrenaline). The outside layer is called the adrenal cortex. The cells in the adrenal cortex make important hormones (cortisol and aldosterone) that help the body function properly.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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