You can call it Addison’s disease, adrenal insufficiency or hypocortisolism, for they all indicate that your adrenals are not producing and excreting enough cortisol for the maintenance of a healthy body. And for some, too little aldosterone as well.
This potentially life ending condition commonly occurs in the 30-50 age range.
In most cases, your adrenal insufficiency develops over the course of several months, causing you to experience side effects of low blood pressure and low blood sugar, aka hypoglycemia. Additional signs and symptoms may include:
- salt craving
- appetite loss
- severe fatigue
- fainting spells
- abdominal pain
- muscle weakness
- muscle, joint pains
- unplanned weight loss
- hyperpigmentation ~ skin darkening
Sometimes your Addison’s disease low blood pressure and sugar symptoms can show up instantaneously, what is known as acute adrenal crisis, or addisonian crisis. In this instance, some additional signs and symptoms may present, like:
- loss of consciousness
- lower back, abdomen, leg pain
- severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
Acute adrenal failure is an emergency, so seek medical attention immediately.
The cause for adrenal insufficiency may be primary or secondary. Primary involves some type of direct damage to your adrenal glands, and a common instigator causing insufficient adrenal output is an autoimmune disease. Or if that’s not your case, other causation may be:
- adrenal gland infection
- cancer spread to adrenals
- bleeding in your adrenal glands
Secondary adrenal insufficiency occurs if your pituitary gland is not sending out healthy levels of ACTH, or if you suddenly stop taking corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are prescribed for chronic conditions such as:
Treatment for Addison’s disease involves a life-long oral replacement for your adrenal steroid hormone deficiency. Cortisol finds replacement with:
For those suffering from a double insufficiency of cortisol and aldosterone, florinef (fludrocortisone) is an additional pill to pop.
If you are on any of these drugs and up against an uncontrollable stressful situation, contact your physician. You may be advised to temporarily increase your dosage.
For those looking for a natural or holistic approach to adrenal gland sluggishness, take yourself off of your diet of high processed sugar consumption and try a vegetable intensive one. Couple this program with a daily exercise regime and prioritize stress management.
As with many health situations, eating right, moving your body and stress avoidance is the staple for supporting a healthy feeling future. There really are no short cuts to homeostasis.
Besides, living a healthy lifestyle can be fun. It’s simply a state of mind.