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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Secondary Adrenocortical Insufficiency
Secondary adrenocortical insufficiency is a condition in which a lack of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) prevents the body from producing enough cortisol.
Production of cortisol is controlled by the action of ACTH. ACTH is produced by the pituitary gland. This gland is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. If either the hypothalamus or pituitary gland is damaged, less ACTH is produced. This can lead to problems with the adrenal glands and reduced cortisol production.
Secondary adrenocortical insufficiency may be caused by:
With secondary adrenocortical insufficiency, only cortisol is low. The adrenal glands can usually still make normal amounts of the hormone aldosterone. Symptoms include:
Diagnosis starts with a medical history and physical exam. If your doctor suspects adrenal insufficiency, the doctor will check your blood cortisol and ACTH levels. You may have imaging tests of the adrenal glands, the pituitary gland, or the hypothalamus.
CT scan or MRI can be used to see if there are signs of damage to the brain or pituitary gland (such as a tumor) that is causing adrenal failure.
If possible, your doctor will treat the condition that is causing secondary adrenocortical insufficiency. Treatment will also include medicines like corticosteroids (hydrocortisone). You and your doctor will work together to find the dose that works best for you. It is also important to ask your doctor what to do when your body is under stress.
Current as of:
April 13, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: April 13, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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