What are symptoms of adrenal dysfunction?

1 Answer
Mar 9, 2016

There are two possible cases for adrenal dysfunction. 1. Adrenal glands become overactive, and 2. becomes underactive.


Addison's Disease and Adrenal Insufficiency:
Comparing those 2, primary adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease) is characterized by insufficient production of the hormone cortisol (and sometimes aldosterone), while secondary adrenal insufficiency occurs when the pituitary gland fails to produce enough of the hormone (adrenocorticotropin or ACTH) that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.

Those with primary adrenal insufficiency may also develop a darkening of the skin particularly on scars, mucous membranes (inner cheeks), skin folds or pressure points (elbows, knees, knuckles or toes).

A sudden, severe worsening of symptoms can lead to acute adrenal insufficiency (or Addisonian or adrenal crisis). Symptoms include sudden penetrating pain in the lower back, abdomen or legs, severe vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration, low blood pressure and loss of consciousness.

Cushing's Syndrome (Adrenal Overproduction or hypercortisolism)

  • Develop very thin limbs, an obese upper body, a rounded moon-shaped face and a hump of increased fat on the back of the neck.

  • Other common symptoms include severe fatigue, muscle weakness, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, increased thirst and urination and mood changes such as irritability, depression, and anxiety.

  • The skin may also become thin and fragile, bruise easily, and heal poorly. Excess cortisol causes the bones to weaken, leading to increased risk of fractures.

  • Women with Cushing’s often have excess hair growth on the face, neck, chest, abdomen and thighs and may have irregular or absent menstrual periods, while men may develop decreased sex drive and performance.

Hope this helps! :-)

Sources: http://www.livestrong.com/article/71846-adrenal-dysfunction-symptoms/ http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-addisons-disease-basics