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Adrenal Insufficiency - Know About Its Treatment Options!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, Post Graduate Diploma In Diabetology (PGDD)
Endocrinologist, Thane  •  15 years experience
Adrenal Insufficiency - Know About Its Treatment Options!

A deficiency of the adrenal hormones is also known as Addison’s disease. This is a life-threatening disease that can affect men and women of all ages. Adrenal insufficiency is marked by chronic fatigue, weight loss, low blood sugar and blood pressure levels, depression, muscle pain and loss of body hair. When these symptoms occur together, they should never be ignored. An early diagnosis is a key to the treatment of this condition.

A doctor will use a combination of tests to determine a diagnosis of Addison’s disease. This includes a blood test to measure levels of minerals and antibodies associated with this disease in the body, an ACTH stimulation test, insulin-induced hypoglycemia test and imaging tests. In addition, the doctor will also ask for a detailed family medical history.

Treatment for Addison’s disease is focused on balancing the hormone levels. Thus, it involves the use of hormone replacement drugs to perform the functions of the missing hormones. This type of treatment could include:

1. Oral corticosteroids
In this case, an oral medication may be prescribed to replace the cortisol and aldosterone. This is usually the first form of treatment.

2. Corticosteroid injections
In some cases, the nausea caused by the disease is so bad that the patient cannot take oral medication. In such cases the hormone replacement drugs may be given via injections.

The dosage of these replacement hormones may be changed according to the patient’s overall health and mental state. Fr example, the doctor may decide to increase dosage if the patient is recovering from an infection or surgery or if he or she is under stress. It is important for the patient not to change the dosage of these medications without the doctor’s approval. Missing even one day’s medication can be harmful to the patient.

Hence, it is important to always have extra medication at hand. The patient should ideally keep a small stock of medication at work, in their bag and in their car.

3. Lifestyle changes
Making a few lifestyle changes can also help. Processed foods, caffeine, sugar and alcohol should all be avoided. Refined vegetable oil should also be avoided as it can have an inflammatory effect. This may be replaced by healthy fats such as coconut oil and olive oil. Include high fiber foods such as starchy vegetables, chia seeds, berries etc. in the patient’s diet. Probiotic foods and foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids are also beneficial. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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