Adrenal Insufficiency

What Causes Adrenal Insufficiency?

In order to hopefully treat and prevent recurrence of adrenal insufficiency we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow adrenal insufficiency to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind adrenal insufficiency consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to adrenal insufficiency.  Here are four possibilities:
  • Autoimmune Tendency
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hypopituitarism

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
frequent unexplained fevers
highly elevated lymphocyte count
candidiasis
regularly feeling unusually cold
multiple painful cervical nodes
being at risk of HIV/AIDS
swollen axillary nodes
swollen cervical nodes
having had a few sexual partners
having low TT4 level
African ethnicity
non-vaginal candidiasis
... and more than 20 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of adrenal insufficiency:
Cause Probability Status
Tuberculosis 96% Confirm
Hypopituitarism 19% Unlikely
Autoimmune Tendency 5% Ruled out
HIV/AIDS 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Glandular Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about adrenal insufficiency:
Have you suffered from Adrenal Insufficiency?
Possible responses:
→ Uncertain / don't know
→ No, lab tests have confirmed normal function
→ It is a suspected problem
→ Yes, a lab test has confirmed it
→ I have confirmed Addison's Disease
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate confirmed normal adrenal function, suspected adrenal insufficiency, adrenal insufficiency or Addison's disease, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Tuberculosis

When Dr. Thomas Addison first described this disease in London in 1855, the most common cause was tuberculosis.  This remained the leading cause until the middle of the twentieth century when antibiotics progressively reduced TB's incidence.  TB is nevertheless still a possible cause.

HIV/AIDS

In general, diagnosis and treatment endocrine issues in HIV patients is no different from non-HIV patients.  However, HIV can cause reactive changes in pituitary and adrenal function, as can many HIV medications.

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