Hypocortisolism is a condition that affects your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands are located just above your kidneys. The outside layer of these glands makes hormones that help your body regulate your salt and water balance and your blood pressure. These hormones also help your body to cope with stress.
Hypocortisolism is evidenced by your adrenal glands not producing enough of these hormones. Hypocortisolism is also marked by a reduction in your ability to deal with stress.
Cortisol is one of the hormones that is not made adequately enough when you have hypocortisolism. Aldosterone is another hormone that you have in insufficient quantities with hypocortisolism. These are hormones that give instructions to nearly every organ and tissue in your body.
Hypocortisolism can also be described as a reduced ability to cope with stress. At the present time, hypocortisolism is one of the most common imbalances in the United States.
Hypocortisolism can take place in anyone at any age of life. However, it occurs most of the time in people who are between the ages of 30 and 50.
The most frequent cause of hypocortisolism is believed to be your body attacking itself. This is what an autoimmune disease is. An autoimmune disease is one in which your immune system that attacks anything foreign that invades your body, for some unknown reason, attacks the tissues and cells of your own body.
In the case of hypocortisolism, for reasons that are not known, your immune system looks at the cortex (outer layer) of your adrenal glands that makes essential hormones as something foreign that needs to be attacked and destroyed.
However, there are other possible causes of hypocortisolism, also. Some of these are:
- Other infections of your adrenal glands
- Cancer that spreads (metastasizes) into your adrenal glands
- Bleeding into your adrenal glands.
The signs and symptoms of hypocortisolism may develop slowly over a period of several months. There are several signs and symptoms that you may have with this condition. Some of these include:
- Low blood pressure that goes even lower when you are standing and may lead to dizziness or fainting
- Unintended weight loss
- Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that include nausea, anxiety, palpitations and sweating
- Loss of appetite
- Chronic fatigue that becomes progressively worse
- Darkening of your skin (hyperpigmentation)
- Weakness and muscle fatigue
- A craving for salty foods
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Depression and/or irritability
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular menstrual periods in women.
Your doctor will probably do a physical exam, ask you about your signs and symptoms and want to know about your medical history in order to diagnose your hypocortisolism. There are several diagnostic tests that your doctor may want you to have in order to confirm a diagnosis of hypocortisolism. Some of these are insulin-induced hypoglycemia test, blood tests, imaging tests and ACTH stimulation test.
Prescription corticosteroids may be used to treat your hypocortisolism. Your doctor may also want you to take one or more of the hormones that your body is not sufficiently producing. Any stressful situations like an infection, an impending operation or a minor illness may cause you to need a temporary increase in your dosages of these medications.
Are you disabled and unable to work because of hypocortisolism and/or complications that have resulted from this disorder. Have you filed for Social Security disability benefits or disability benefits from the Social Security Administration because of your disability.
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