Adrenal Insufficiency

Carrie Carda, MD -  - OB-GYN

Carrie Carda, MD

OB-GYN & Integrative Medicine Specialist located in Poplar Bluff, MO

If you drag yourself through the day, have a hard time sleeping, and your brain is foggy, you may suffer from adrenal insufficiency or fatigue. Dr. Carrie Carda at Women’s Health Specialists takes a whole-person approach to your symptoms, thoroughly exploring all possible causes, testing hormone levels, then creating a customized treatment plan to help you regain your vitality. Call her office in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, or use the online booking feature to schedule an evaluation for adrenal insufficiency.

Adrenal Insufficiency Q & A

What is the role of your adrenal glands?

You have two adrenal glands -- one on top of each kidney. The glands produce hormones that influence virtually every tissue and organ in your body, including:

  • Androgens: sex hormones
  • Aldosterone: regulates blood pressure
  • Hydrocortisone: regulates the use of carbohydrate, protein, and fat
  • Cortisone: regulates the immune response
  • Adrenaline: activates the fight-or-flight response
  • Cortisol: activates the stress response

What health conditions develop from high cortisol?

Like all the adrenal hormones, cortisol is essential for your health. Most of the cells in your body have cortisol receptors, so it has a broad influence, from regulating your metabolism to influencing memory formation.

When you’re under stress, the adrenal glands release cortisol, which ensures you have the energy required to deal with your stress by stimulating your metabolism and increasing blood levels of glucose. A temporary boost in cortisol is essential to help you deal with stress, but health problems arise when your stress level stays elevated for an extended time.

Chronically-high cortisol results in issues such as:

  • High blood sugar
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Gastrointestinal problems

What causes adrenal insufficiency?

Adrenal insufficiency develops when the adrenal glands can’t produce a sufficient amount of cortisol to keep you healthy. In some cases, you may also lack aldosterone. Primary adrenal insufficiency is most often caused by an autoimmune condition that destroys part of the adrenal gland, while secondary adrenal insufficiency is due to a problem in your pituitary gland.

What symptoms develop due to adrenal insufficiency?

Symptoms usually develop gradually, although if you have an injury, illness, or intense stress, the symptoms can arise quickly. You may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness and pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness when standing up
  • Low blood sugar
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Darkened skin

What is adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue refers to a cluster of symptoms that occur when aging or chronic stress overwork the adrenal glands, and they can’t produce sufficient cortisol. When this happens the following symptoms appear:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Foggy brain
  • Body aches
  • Leaky gut
  • Anxiety and stress

How are adrenal conditions treated?

Before formulating a treatment plan, Dr. Carda runs tests to assess your cortisol levels. Depending on your symptoms, the doctor may want to check your insulin tolerance and perform diagnostic imaging to visualize your adrenal and pituitary glands.

Treatment primarily consists of hormone replacement therapy that’s individualized to restore your hormones back to normal levels. Dr. Carda may provide supplements or prescription adrenal medication.