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Adrenal insufficiency

Adrenal insufficiency - What it is

​Adrenal insufficiency results from a lack of hormones made by the adrenal glands, which are glands found above each kidney. These glands produce hormones called cortisol and aldosterone. These hormones are needed  to maintain a normal blood pressure, fluid and electrolyte balance, and blood sugar level, especially during  times of physical stress.

Adrenal insufficiency - Symptoms

  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Feeling dizzy, especially after standing up
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Adrenal insufficiency - How to prevent?

Adrenal insufficiency - Causes and Risk Factors

​Adrenal insufficiency may be caused by damage to either the adrenal glands, or the pituitary gland. Both of these glands are important for the production of adrenal hormones. The long term use of steroids can also cause adrenal insufficiency. Less commonly, adrenal insufficiency can result from inherited conditions that affect the ability of the adrenal glands to make hormones.

Adrenal insufficiency - Diagnosis

​A blood test for cortisol may help to determine if you have adrenal insufficiency. If the result is borderline, you may need to undergo hormone stimulation test known as an ACTH stimulation test to confirm the diagnosis.

Adrenal insufficiency - Treatments

Treatment of adrenal insufficiency involves taking adrenal hormone replacements, otherwise known as steroid hormones. These are usually taken as tablets by mouth. A higher dose of steroid hormones may be required when the body is experiencing physical stress, such as during periods of illness. During a more serious illness, you may need to receive injection steroids in hospital. 

Depending on the cause of adrenal insufficiency, it may be possible to eventually stop taking steroid hormone replacements in some cases. However, this should only be decided by your doctor.

Adrenal insufficiency - Preparing for surgery

Adrenal insufficiency - Post-surgery care

Adrenal insufficiency - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth