If you're always fatigued, weak, or you’ve lost your appetite, you may be experiencing a cluster of symptoms caused by adrenal insufficiency. Dr. Orlando Fernandez at the Endocrinology Institute of South Florida encourages you to have a thorough checkup. He can determine whether your adrenal hormones are low and get you started on treatment to restore your energy. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking feature or call one of their offices in Bonita Springs or Fort Myers, Florida.
You have two adrenal glands, one above each kidney. They produce hormones that affect every tissue and organ in your body, including:
Adrenal insufficiency develops when your adrenal glands don’t produce a sufficient amount of cortisol. If you have primary adrenal insufficiency, you may also be deficient in aldosterone.
Primary adrenal insufficiency, called Addison’s disease, occurs when the adrenal gland is damaged, often due to an autoimmune disease. Secondary adrenal insufficiency, the most common type, is caused by a problem in the pituitary gland that leads to low cortisol levels.
Your pituitary gland releases a hormone, adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), that stimulates cortisol production in the adrenal glands. If the pituitary doesn’t send out enough ACTH, your adrenal glands don’t produce enough cortisol. Over time, your adrenal glands can shrink due to lack ACT.
Cortisol circulates through your body, affecting virtually every tissue. Its primary function is to help you respond to stress. A few of the jobs performed by cortisol include:
The symptoms of adrenal insufficiency tend to develop slowly. The most common symptoms include:
You may also experience symptoms such as:
In some patients, symptoms may appear suddenly, signaling a medical emergency because the adrenal glands have failed. When this happens, the person may have severe vomiting and diarrhea along with sudden, severe pain in the back, abdomen, or legs.
Without treatment, this type of adrenal crisis is life-threatening.
Dr. Fernandez performs a physical examination and specialized testing to determine your hormone levels and the underlying cause of the problem. Treatment focuses on bringing your hormone levels back to normal by replacing cortisol and aldosterone, if necessary.
Please contact Dr. Fernandez by calling or booking an appointment if you experience signs of adrenal insufficiency.