Everybody has two adrenal glands that sit on top of the kidneys and make different hormones that help keep his/her body working right. The adrenal gland responds to messages from the brain about how much hormone (cortisol and aldosterone) to produce. If the adrenal gland is not working right, the messages from the brain will continue to increase. Cortisol helps the body respond to illness and injury which also helps control blood pressure and blood sugar in the body. Aldosterone helps control the body’s salt and water level in the body, which helps control blood pressure.
There are different types of adrenal insufficiency based on what is causing the adrenal gland to malfunction. To diagnose adrenal insufficiency, your provider will draw labs to measure hormones and electrolytes in the body. Symptoms you may see at home include: weight gain, fatigue, low blood pressure, and salt cravings.
The treatment of adrenal insufficiency is based on what hormones are lacking in the body and what is causing the problem. Most patients will need to take cortisol to replace what the adrenal gland cannot produce. If you have concerns that your child may have adrenal insufficiency, talk to your child’s primary care provider.