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Adrenal insufficiency

Adrenal insufficiency is a medical condition in which adrenal glands do not produce sufficient amounts of steroid hormones, important for health and normal body functions. This condition affects both men and women of all age.

Adrenal glands

Adrenal glands, also known as suprarenal glands, are triangular-shaped endocrine glands situated above each kidney. Inside layer of the adrenal glands, known as adrenal medulla, produces epinephrine known as adrenaline. The outer layer, adrenal cortex, produces hormones vital to health, like cortisol and aldosterone.

Cortisol, for example, affects every living organ and tissue in the body. One of the most important features of cortisol is that it helps the body respond to stress. In addition, it helps in maintaining normal blood pressure, slows down the immune system’s inflammatory reaction, breaks down sugar for energy and balances the effects of insulin, regulates metabolism of important nutrients and promotes the sense of general well-being.

Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency

Usually, symptoms of adrenal insufficiency progress very gradually. They most frequently include chronic fatigue, muscle weakness loss of appetite and weight loss. Around half of the patients may experience symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms may include: low blood pressure that may fall even lower when standing, causing dizziness or fainting; irritability; depression; low blood sugar symptoms such as sweating, nausea, palpitations and anxiety; cravings for salty food and irregular menstrual periods.

Addison's can present with a tanning of the skin that covers exposed and non-exposed parts of the body. It is most visible on skin folds, pressure points, lips, and mucous membranes.

Acute adrenal insufficiency

Acute adrenal insufficiency is also known as Addisonian crisis. Symptoms of adrenalin insufficiency usually progress very slowly and patients most commonly ignore them. Sudden illness or accident can make them worse and more emphasized. This situation is called addisonian crisis and it involves severe symptoms that demand medical help. Addisonian crisis may even be fatal.

Symptoms of addisonian crisis include unexpected sharp pain in the lower back, abdomen on legs; excessive vomiting and diarrhea fallowed by dehydration, low blood pressure and fainting.

However, all of the symptoms mentioned in this article do not necessarily point out to adrenal insufficiency and can result from other ailments or conditions that are completely unrelated. Many other health conditions may provoke similar or same signs and symptoms. It is important to seek medical help if any of these symptoms is present. Only, a doctor of medicine can diagnose the condition properly and recommend an appropriate treatment.

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