What is adrenal insufficiency?

What is adrenal insufficiency?


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What is adrenal insufficiency 

Adrenal insufficiency is the malfunctioning of the adrenal glands, which are located on the kidneys. In the 

case of adrenal insufficiency the glands produce too little to no corticosteroids hormones. This can lead to diseasses such as diseasse Adisson, Adrenogenaal syndrome and Cushing's diseasse. 

We'll talk about these diseasses later. Now let's look at what symptoms you may think or you might have an adrenal insufficiency. These symptoms should keep you at a close eye. If you have some of these symptoms it is recommended to check out your adrenal glands. 

Big complaint is mainly the fatigue and lethargy. Also pay attention especially to moodiness, anxiety, rapid stress (could not be otherwise, because your stress hormone is produced in the adrenal gland),  difficult to sleep, get up tired in the morning, hair / dry hair, depression, concentration problems, weakened immune system, painful joints and muscles, muscle weakness, elevated blood sugar, skin problems, weight increase, enormous sense of sweet and salty, dizziness, headaches, digestive problems and mood swings are among the main symptoms.

 If you have more than three of the symptoms are, it may be tell you that something is not going well with your adrenal glands and it is best to check it out by your doctor. 

You have three types of adrenal insufficiency.

1. Primary Adrenal  insufficiency is an auto-immune diseasse (approximately 80% of the cases), also known as diseasse of Adisson. In other cases, it may be as a result of adrenogenital syndrome or a tumor in the adrenal gland. The diseasses is called idiopathic if there is no known cause.

2. Secondary insufficiency is caused by degradation of the pituitary gland, this may be caused by an adenoma or a tumor (Sheehan's syndrome). Eg by a head injury in the past. Think of a trauma to the head, but also to whiplash, which is often forgotten.

3. Tertiary  insufficiency is the result of a disease of the pituitary gland, and a lack of corticotropin releasing factor. Can be found on blood tests as CRF. Adrenal glands thus play an important role in producing hormones. They are also responsible for the production of the hormone aldosterone (a mineralocorticoid) which regulated the sodium, potassium and water retention. So you get the symptom to fancy salt or salty foods, because you lose a lot of sodium in your urine, which is common when you have a shortage of aldosterone. 

Also, female hormones (progesterone) and male hormones (testosterone) are made in the glands, but the most important hormone that they produce is the hormone cortisol. This is a stress hormone. If you have a long period of stress, you can get adrenal exhaustion, or not creating enough cortisol, which can lead to the above complaints. Note that if you have the secondary insufficiency , it is not recognized by doctors, because at least to me and several other patients in my group, are not believed. Only when you have a doctor who is really determent in this area , will take the blood tests (ITT test = stress test), can be diagnosed. And I must warn, a lot of doctors who are not familiar with this diseasses confuse the hormons cortisol and cortison! I''ll write later an article so you know the big difference between these two hormones.

 Until then  when they ( doctors) see  in your regular blood tests no notable decreases or increases, you are healthy, according to them. So you have to have a big mouth to convince the doctor to do these special tests (ITT test and blood test ACTH stimulation test, or measuring 21-hydroxylase auto antibodies).  Often you get first other diagnoses over the years such like I  had over the years : CFS ( chronical Fatique Syndrome, hypogammaglobulinemia, Burn out... But after years mis diagnoses lot of patients are so sick they do not heal and swallow for the rest of their lives cortisol. I don't have to tell you when you think about the deaths amongst patients because it was not recognized by the patients who didn't knew they had such problems!

Once you have a diagnosis (diseasse Adisson, andrenogaal syndrome or Cushing's diseasse you can  swallow for the rest of your life cortisol.

Someone with kidney insufficiency does not get  better unless he recieves new kidneys, but if you have adrenal insufficiency that  is for  the rest of your life too, and more importantly is that your kidneys your adrenal glands desperately need to do their jobs. Because when you almost produce  no or almost nothing of the cortisol hormone it can have deadly consequences (Adisson shock). When taking cortisol and DHEA  can have weight gain.

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