Marla Ahlgrimm on Managing Adrenal Insufficiency

Marla AhlgrimmAdrenal disorders can cause a number of disparaging symptoms, says women’s health expert Marla Ahlgrimm. When the adrenal glands – glands that control cortisol and aldosterone – fail to produce, essential life functions take a hit.

Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency (AI)

Marla Ahlgrimm explains that AI may cause excessive fatigue, dizziness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and severe joint pain. Untreated, AI may eventually lead to weight loss, insatiable salt cravings, and darkening of the skin.  People with adrenal disorders may feel fine one day and barely have the energy to get out of bed the next.

Treatment

AI may be acute (temporary) or chronic (lifelong), explains Marla Ahlgrimm. Permanent AI is often triggered by other medical issues including Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, Addison’s disease, and surgical removal of the pituitary gland. Prolonged steroid use, transsphenoidal surgery, and medical treatment of Cushing’s disease may trigger temporary adrenal dysfunction.

Medications are available to supplant the missing hormones and will offer sufferers a better quality of life. Missing cortisol can be replaced with hydrocortisone, prednisone, or dexamethasone. Low aldosterone, which is the hormone that controls the body’s sodium and fluid balance, is treated with fludrocortisone tablets. Occasionally, says Marla Ahlgrimm, salt tablets will be given to add sodium to the body.

Managing AI

Managing adrenal disorders is a hands-on process that requires dedication and diligence. Marla Ahlgrimm asserts, however, that the disease doesn’t have to interfere with a person’s life. With regular medical check-ups, self-care, medication, and an intimate understanding of the disease, most women can manage their symptoms with little inconvenience.

Severe cases

Severe cases of AI may leave a person unable to intake oral medication. These individuals may benefit from intramuscular (injected) glucocorticoid, which replaces both fludrocortisone and hydrocortisone pills. Once the glucocorticoid has taken effect, most people can return to their normal AI management  routine.

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