Adrenal insufficiency is when the adrenal glands don't make enough of the hormones they normally produce. These hormones affect almost every organ and tissue in the body as well as balance salts and blood pressure. Who would have thought that the glands on top of each kidney played such an important role in so many bodily functions? They kinda look like two little cockeyed stocking caps, keeping the kidneys warm. Yet these glands release many hormones such as Cortisol and Aldosterone that are needed to keep the body running smoothly.
Cortisol helps the body deal with stress and recover from illness. The stress can be emotional or physical as in the case of sickness, injury, or surgery. Cortisol also helps keep blood sugar levels and protein levels in balance.
Aldosterone helps regulate blood pressure as well as balances levels of salt, potassium, and water in the body. When aldosterone is not produced, the kidneys can't regulate salt and potassium which leads to a drop in blood pressure and volume.
ACTH is produced by the pituitary glands and stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. If ACTH does not stimulate the adrenal glands, they shrink and this form of adrenal insufficiency is called Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency.