What is Adrenal Insufficiency?

Adrenal insufficiency is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol has many important jobs in the body, including preventing low blood pressure and low blood sugar. Cortisol is also important for helping the body respond to stresses such as illness, injury, and surgery.

In some cases of adrenal insufficiency, the adrenal glands also do not make enough aldosterone. Aldosterone is a hormone that helps the body keep the right balance of water and the salts sodium and potassium.

Important Words to Know

  • Adrenal glands
    The adrenal glands are located next to the kidneys. They make many hormones, including cortisol and aldosterone.
  • Aldosterone
    Aldosterone is a hormone that helps your body keep the right balance of water and salts.
  • Cortisol
    Cortisol is a hormone that helps prevent low blood pressure and low blood sugar. It also helps your body respond to illness, injury and surgery. It is the most common glucocorticoid in humans.
  • Glucocorticoid
    Glucocorticoids are hormones with many jobs, including keeping blood sugar levels within a normal range. Artificial forms of glucocorticoids can be given to people whose bodies have trouble making enough of their own glucocorticoid.
  • Stress-dosing
    Stress-dosing is when you give your child extra doses of a medication called glucocorticoid. You must give your child stress doses when he or she is sick, injured or having surgery.

Did You Know?

It’s very important for your child to wear a medical ID, like a medical alert bracelet, that states he or she has adrenal insufficiency. If there’s ever an emergency, this will help make sure your child receives the right treatment by the medical team.

Learn More