A 67-year-old female asked:
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I have been diagnosed with Adrenal Insufficiency and am on Hydrocortisone. My bodies Cortisone has been depleted. will I ever be able to stop the Hyd?

1 doctor answer
Dr. John Rhoades
47 years experience in Family Medicine
Prob not: A temporary form of secondary adrenal insufficiency may occur when a person who has been taking a synthetic glucocorticoid hormone, called a corticosteroid, for a long time stops taking the medication. Corticosteroids are often prescribed to treat inflammatory illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and ulcerative colitis. In this case, the prescription doses often cause higher levels than those normally achieved by the glucocorticoid hormones created by the body. When a person takes corticosteroids for prolonged periods, the adrenal glands produce less of their natural hormones. Once the prescription doses of corticosteroid are stopped, the adrenal glands may be slow to restart their production of the body’s glucocorticoids. To give the adrenal glands time to regain function and prevent adrenal insufficiency, prescription corticosteroid doses should be reduced gradually over a period of weeks or even months. Even with gradual reduction, the adrenal glands might not begin to function normally for some time, so a person who has recently stopped taking prescription corticosteroids should be watched carefully for symptoms of secondary adrenal insufficiency.
Answered on Jan 15, 2015
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