Adrenal insufficiency is an hormonal disorder that occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of certain hormones. The adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys.
What do Adrenal Hormones Do?
Adrenal hormones, such as cortisol and aldosterone, play key roles in the functioning of the human body, such as regulating blood pressure; metabolism, the way the body uses digested food for energy; and the body’s response to stress.
In addition, the body uses the adrenal hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) to make androgens and estrogens, the male and female sex hormones.
Here is a list of some common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency:
- chronic, or long lasting, fatigue
- muscle weakness
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- abdominal pain
- low blood pressure that drops further when a person stands up, causing dizziness or fainting
- irritability and depression
- craving salty foods
- hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar
- irregular or absent menstrual periods
- in women, loss of interest in sex
Adrenal insufficiency is treated by replacing, or substituting, the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making. The dose of each medication is adjusted to meet the needs of the patient.