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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Acute Adrenal Crisis
      Category : Health Centers > Endocrine Disorders

Acute Adrenal Crisis

Alternate Names : Acute Adrenal Insufficiency, Acute Hypoadrenalism

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

An acute adrenal crisis occurs when the adrenal glands suddenly stop working as they should.

What is going on in the body?

There are two adrenal glands in the body, one on top of each kidney. The outer part of each adrenal gland secretes key hormones. These hormones are called corticosteroids, which most people refer to as steroids. Steroids are needed for the body's metabolism and healthy functioning.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

For an adrenal crisis to happen, both adrenal glands must stop working well. Reasons why this may occur include the following:

  • bleeding into both adrenal glands
  • cancer that destroys both adrenal glands
  • infections of both adrenal glands
  • People can also have an adrenal crisis when they suddenly stop taking steroid medicines, such as prednisone. When a person takes steroid medicines for more than a week, the adrenal glands become used to not having to make their own steroids, so they stop working as actively. If the person then suddenly stops taking steroids, the adrenal glands may not be able to start making their own quickly enough to maintain healthy functioning of the body. This is particularly true if the body is under stress. Stress can result from an illness, surgery, or other problem.


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    Acute Adrenal Crisis: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Melissa Sanders, PharmD
    Date Reviewed: 08/22/01

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