The confidence to live with adrenal insufficiency
Adrenal insufficiency occurs when your adrenal glands don’t make enough of certain vital hormones. Adrenal insufficiency can be either primary (also known as Addison’s disease) or secondary (related to malfunction of the pituitary gland). Living with adrenal insufficiency can be dangerous. A complication of adrenal insufficiency is an adrenal crisis, caused by insufficient levels of cortisol. An adrenal crisis can be brought on by physical stress to your body, such as infection, dehydration, trauma, or surgery, or not taking your medication properly.
Someone having an adrenal crisis may exhibit profound weakness, headache, sluggish movement, nausea or vomiting, or shaking chills. Untreated, an adrenal crisis can lead to shock, coma, or even death. It is critical that you are treated immediately with an injection of stress dose hydrocortisone. That’s why all leading practitioners recommend that you always wear a medical ID.
In an accident or medical emergency like adrenal crisis, your MedicAlert ID will immediately alert emergency personnel to your condition. First responders are trained to look for a medical ID and to contact MedicAlert. MedicAlert’s 24/7 response team will relay your complete emergency health profile to the people caring for you to ensure you get the correct treatment as quickly as possible.
- We’re Your Voice: If you have an accident or medical emergency and can’t speak for yourself, your ID informs others about your condition.
- 24/7 Emergency Protection: Our team will relay your critical medical information to first responders in an emergency, no matter where or when it happens.
- Stay Connected: No one should be alone in their moment of need. MedicAlert will reach out to your emergency contacts when needed if you are unable to do so.
- Peace of Mind: Enjoy the confidence to live your life with adrenal insufficiency, knowing that MedicAlert is there for you when you need us most.
The importance of an adrenal insufficiency medical ID bracelet
Wearing a medical ID at all times ensures your medical conditions are immediately known in an emergency.
When first responders see your MedicAlert ID, they know to contact MedicAlert to get your complete health record.
Get protected 24/7 with a MedicAlert ID and membership.
What exactly is adrenal insufficiency?
Living with adrenal insufficiency can be an incredible challenge. The adrenal glands, located above the kidney, are responsible for the production of cortisol and other vital hormones. Adrenal insufficiency refers to a medical condition during which the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, fail to produce enough cortisol, resulting in a wide range of symptoms.
The causes of adrenal insufficiency are not well documented but can occur for a variety of reasons, such as fungal infections, cancer, bacterial infections, and genetic disorders. Not having enough of the hormone ACTH, also known as adrenocorticotropin, is responsible for a specific type of adrenal insufficiency, known as secondary adrenal insufficiency. This usually occurs due to problems with the pituitary gland, responsible for the production of CTH.
Individuals who have adrenal insufficiency may experience a lot of different and uncomfortable symptoms that can make day-to-day living difficult. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can make living with adrenal insufficiency a little less frustrating and dangerous in your everyday life. One of the most important parts of living with adrenal insufficiency is making sure you understand the condition, as well as ensuring that medical responders are able to access information about your condition and health when necessary.
What are the different types of adrenal insufficiency?
There are two types of adrenal insufficiency that individuals may experience. Both types of adrenal insufficiency result in low production of the hormone cortisol, but the reason behind this low production determines the type of adrenal insufficiency you have. The different types of adrenal insufficiency are secondary adrenal insufficiency and primary adrenal insufficiency (which is also known as Addison’s disease).
Primary adrenal insufficiency occurs as a result of damage to the adrenal glands. While this condition is rare, it can start at any age as a result of various genetic and environmental factors. The damaged adrenal glands are unable to produce sufficient amounts of important hormones such as cortisol, a hormone responsible for stress management in the brain, as well as various bodily functions such as digestion, blood pressure management and the immune system. Regular levels of the hormone aldosterone are also affected, which affects your body’s ability to regulate salt and water levels, further affecting blood pressure.
Secondary adrenal insufficiency arises when the body’s pituitary gland is unable to produce enough of the hormone ACTH, leading to lowered cortisol production by the adrenal glands. This can happen because of prolonged steroid use, or due to conditions such as loss of blood flow to the pituitary gland or radiation therapy. Living with secondary adrenal insufficiency can cause a variety of symptoms, so it’s important that you know what to expect and how others can help you to live safely and happily.
How can adrenal insufficiency affect your life?
In both types of adrenal insufficiency, the reduced level of vital hormones in the body can produce uncomfortable symptoms that affect your everyday life. These include weakness, fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and low blood sugar levels. For people who have primary adrenal insufficiency, otherwise known as Addison’s disease, they may experience a darkened skin color as well as discoloring of the nipples, mouth, rectum, scrotum, or vagina. Women who have adrenal insufficiency may experience irregular or absent menstrual cycles.
These symptoms may affect your day-to-day activities, so it’s important to recognize symptoms and try not to overexert yourself if you are experiencing any. Notifying your employer or co-workers about possible symptoms is also a good idea so that they are able to accommodate your needs.
Sometimes, you may find yourself experiencing more severe symptoms than normal. This usually indicates an adrenal crisis, which is a sudden severe insufficiency of cortisol. An adrenal crisis can occur as a result of strain on the body, such as dehydration, trauma, infection, or surgery. During an adrenal crisis, you may experience a sudden worsening of symptoms associated with adrenal insufficiency. It is important that you immediately seek medical attention if you are experiencing an adrenal crisis, since an adrenal crisis can result in shock, seizures, or coma if left untreated.
“You should wear a medical alert tag at all times. This can make sure you get proper treatment if there is an emergency. When traveling always carry an emergency kit with a shot of cortisol.” – JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICINE
Meet our member, Vanessa – living with Adrenal Insufficiency and how she manages the daily challenges of living with a rare condition.
What should I engrave on an adrenal insufficiency medical ID?
MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our medical ID products. The engraving should include any critical medical information that can protect and save your life if you are in an accident or have a medical emergency, including:
- Medical conditions
- Implanted devices
- Any medical information that needs to be communicated to first responders