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Adrenal Insufficiency

The adrenal glands, located above the kidney, are responsible for producing hormones that are vital to life. If the adrenal glands fail to produce sufficient levels of these hormones, it results in a disorder called adrenal insufficiency. (Primary adrenal insufficiency is known as Addison’s disease.) Adrenal insufficiency can happen to men and women at any age, and its effects can impact the entire body.

If you have developed symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, a reliable doctor like Lynne Ahn, MD, can help balance out your hormones and put you back on the path to optimal health. She can create a customized, comprehensive plan that includes supplements to support the adrenal gland, modifications to diet, exercise and sleep, all based around your health and the specifics of your case.

Understanding Adrenal Insufficiency

The adrenal glands produce cortisol, which is responsible for helping convert food to energy, keeping the immune system’s inflammatory response in check and helping the body respond to stress. It also produces aldosterone, which helps keep blood pressure normal and regulate levels of sodium and potassium.

Problems with the adrenal glands can be caused by an autoimmune disease, cancer or infection of the glands or tuberculosis. It can also be caused by a problem with the pituitary gland, as that gland is responsible for telling adrenal glands how to work.

Signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include the following:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle joint pain
  • Depression
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Salt cravings

Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency usually develop slowly, and the signs are easy to miss. Stresses such as an injury or illness can exacerbate symptoms.

Treating Adrenal Insufficiency

Adrenal insufficiency can be confirmed with a simple blood test. Other tests such as an abdominal CT scan or MRI of the pituitary gland may be recommended depending on the case.

Treatment for adrenal insufficiency has traditionally involved replacing hormones the body doesn’t producing naturally. It also may require vitamins and minerals that will help support the adrenal gland to get it working for you again.

Dr. Ahn takes a comprehensive look at your unique symptoms, lifestyle and genetics. For example, she will want to learn more about your diet, exercise and sleep habits, as well as any areas of stress or other environmental factors that may affect your life, so that she can identify specific strategies for improvement.

With this information, Dr. Ahn can recommend a plan that may include medical therapy, neutraceuticals, dietary recommendations and lifestyle changes. For example, changing your diet to increase consumption of certain foods and decrease consumption of others can be useful. Managing stress by decreasing stress levels may also be useful in cases of adrenal insufficiency.

Rest assured that Dr. Ahn’s recommendations will be tailored to you as a unique individual and developed to help put you back on the path to optimal health and excellent quality of life. She will follow up with you routinely to reassess your adrenal hormone levels and make modifications as needed. Call or email our office to request a consultation with her today.