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Rockville, MD
A 40-year-old female asked:

why don't drs recognize adrenal dysfunction until the adrenals are 90% burnt out (addison's)? seems there should be treatment, such as cortef, (hydrocortisone) before

2 doctor answers7 doctors weighed in
Dr. Alan Ali
Dr. Alan Alianswered
Psychiatry 32 years experience
Adrenals: Thorough workup with high level of suspition can lead to further workup and early intervention.
Dr. Susan Wingo
Endocrinology 33 years experience
Adrenal Failure: Adrenal failure is diagnosed long before the adrenals are 90% burned out (which would mean they can only make 10% of usual cortisol levels). Cortrosyn stimulation tests are pretty sensitive in detecting adrenals that can't make the high levels of cortisol needed in case of severe illness or injury.
Dr. Susan Wingo
Dr. Susan Wingo commented
Endocrinology 33 years experience
Provided original answer
Are you asking about adrenal fatigue? Most Endocrinologists feel this is not really due to the inability of the adrenals to make and release Cortisol. Rather it is due to outside stress, unbalanced eating, too little exercise, and lack of sleep. While Cortef or other steroids may provide a temporary boost in well-being, they really cause too many side effects (wt gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, stomach ulcers to name a few) to be taken longterm. P.S. Addison's Disease refers to adrenal failure due to one specific cause - auto-immune destruction of the adrenal cortex. Adrenal failure (or insufficiency) refers to the inability of the adrenals to make and release normal amounts of Cortisol.
Jul 28, 2013

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Last updated Jan 1, 2021

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