• Adrenal insufficiency is a disorder that occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of certain hormones.
• Primary adrenal insufficiency, also called Addison’s disease, occurs when the adrenal glands are damaged and cannot produce enough of the hormone cortisol and often the hormone aldosterone.
• Secondary adrenal insufficiency occurs when the pituitary gland fails to produce enough adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), a hormone that stimulates the adrenals to produce cortisol. If ACTH output is too low, cortisol production drops.
• The most common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency are chronic, worsening fatigue; muscle weakness; loss of appetite; and weight loss.
• Adrenal insufficiency is most often diagnosed through blood or urine tests. Imaging studies such as x rays, ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be used.
• Treatment of adrenal insufficiency involves replacing, or substituting, the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making.
• People with adrenal insufficiency should always carry identification stating their condition in case of an emergency.
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