Adrenal Insufficiency

What is adrenal insufficiency?

Adrenal insufficiency occurs when the adrenal gland fails to provide adequate levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This may occur through failure of the adrenal gland itself (primary adrenal failure commonly called Addison’s disease) or failure of the pituitary gland to stimulate normal cortisol levels from the adrenal gland (secondary adrenal insufficiency).

In addition, adrenal insufficiency may occur in patients treated with steroids, which suppresses cortisol secretion and results in a temporary and occasionally permanent adrenal insufficiency, called tertiary adrenal insufficiency.1

EffRx-WhatIsAdrenalInsufficiency
EffRx-Primary-Adrenal-Insufficiency

How common is adrenal insufficiency?

Primary adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease occurs in approximately 1 in 10 to 15,000 people and is more commonly found in women as autoimmunity is more common in women.  Secondary adrenal insufficiency due to pituitary failure is twice as common as Addison’s disease and can affect both sexes equally.1

Adrenal insufficiency

What are the signs ?

Hyponatremia, Detected Through Laboratory Tests
Lower Levels of Cortisol Identified in Blood Tests
Increased Skin Pigmentation
Physical Indications of Underlying Conditions
Adrenal insufficiency

What are the signs ?

Hyponatremia, Detected Through Laboratory Tests
Lower Levels of Cortisol Identified in Blood Tests
Increased Skin Pigmentation
Physical Indications of Underlying Conditions
Adrenal insufficiency

What are the signs ?

Hyponatremia, Detected Through Laboratory Tests
Lower Levels of Cortisol Identified in Blood Tests
Increased Skin Pigmentation
Physical Indications of Underlying Conditions
Adrenal insufficiency

What are the signs ?

Hyponatremia, Detected Through Laboratory Tests
Lower Levels of Cortisol Identified in Blood Tests
Increased Skin Pigmentation
Physical Indications of Underlying Conditions
Adrenal insufficiency

What are the signs ?

Hyponatremia, Detected Through Laboratory Tests
Lower Levels of Cortisol Identified in Blood Tests
Increased Skin Pigmentation
Physical Indications of Underlying Conditions

What causes adrenal insufficiency?

Adrenal insufficiency can be classified into primary, secondary, and tertiary causes. Primary adrenal insufficiency occurs when there is a pathology affecting the adrenal gland itself. Secondary adrenal insufficiency results from a decreased level of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) released from the pituitary gland, and tertiary adrenal insufficiency results from a decreased level of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) released from the hypothalamus.

References

1. Huecker MR, Bhutta BS, Dominique E. Adrenal Insufficiency. [Updated 2023 Aug 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441832/