Many healthcare professionals like to prescribe drugs, sometimes unnecessarily. Much of the doctor’s education about drug dosages and side effects comes from drug companies. Naturally, drug companies like to maximize benefits and minimize risks. Consequently, many doctors are under educated about medication side effects and risks, which may put children at risk. Maci’s TEAMS will restore balance between the benefits and risks of allergy and asthma medications in children.
It is also important to know that many times the child’s parent has the first opportunity to notice that something is wrong. This is a result of spending much more time with the child than the healthcare professional, who may go six months between visits. It is for this reason that parents should educate themselves on the physical signs of adrenal insufficiency, which may be life threatening.
What is adrenal insufficiency?
Adrenal insufficiency is an endocrine, or hormonal, disorder that occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol. The adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys. Inhaled corticosteroids may cause adrenal insufficiency when the patient is exposed to high doses of medication. The body recognizes that it is receiving cortisol from an outside source and stops the adrenals from producing its own cortisol. This can cause the adrenals to atrophy.
Symptoms of Adrenal Insufficiency – The most common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency are
- chronic, or long lasting, fatigue
- muscle weakness
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- abdominal pain
Other symptoms of adrenal insufficiency can include
- low blood pressure that drops further when a person stands up, causing dizziness or fainting
- irritability and depression
- craving salty foods
- hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar
- irregular or absent menstrual periods
- in women, loss of interest in sex
Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, can occur in Addison’s disease. This darkening is most visible on scars; skin folds; pressure points such as the elbows, knees, knuckles, and toes; lips; and mucous membranes such as the lining of the cheek.
The slowly progressing symptoms of adrenal insufficiency are often ignored until a stressful event, such as surgery, a severe injury, an illness, or pregnancy, causes them to worsen.
Iatrogenic Cushing Syndrome
Iatrogenic Cushing Syndrome is a disorder that occurs when your body has a higher than normal level of the hormone cortisol. This hormone is made in the adrenal glands.
This type of Cushing Syndrome is caused by something outside the body and it occurs when a person takes man-made (synthetic) glucocorticoid medicines to treat a disease.
Symptoms of Iatrogenic Cushing Syndrome – Most people with Cushing syndrome have:
- Round, red, full face (moon face)
- Slow growth rate in children
- Weight gain with fat accumulation on the trunk, but fat loss from the arms, legs, and buttocks (central obesity)
Skin changes that are often seen:
- Skin infections
- Purple marks (1/2 inch or more wide), called striae, on the skin of the abdomen, thighs, and breasts
- Thin skin with easy bruising
Muscle and bone changes include:
- Backache, which occurs with routine activities
- Bone pain or tenderness
- Collection of fat between the shoulders and above the collar bone
- Rib and spine fractures caused by thinning of the bones
- Weak muscles, especially of the hips and shoulders
Women may have:
- Excess hair growth on the face, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs
- Periods that become irregular or stop
Men may have:
- Decreased or no desire for sex
Other symptoms that may occur include:
- Mental changes, such as depression, anxiety, or changes in behavior
- HeadacheIncreased thirst and urination
Sudden, severe worsening of adrenal insufficiency symptoms is called adrenal crisis. If the person has Addison’s disease, this worsening can also be called an Addisonian crisis. In most cases, symptoms of adrenal insufficiency become serious enough that people seek medical treatment before an adrenal crisis occurs. However, sometimes symptoms appear for the first time during an adrenal crisis.
Symptoms of adrenal crisis include
- sudden, severe pain in the lower back, abdomen, or legs
- severe vomiting and diarrhea
- low blood pressure
- loss of consciousness
If not treated, an adrenal crisis can cause death.