Endocrine Disease and Cortisol

Detecting an underlying adrenal condition early could save your life

Learn about the signs and symptoms of Addison’s, risk factors and the role of cortisol.

Addison’s disease

Addison's disease is a life threatening condition also called adrenal insufficiency that occurs when the body doesn't produce enough cortisol.

Addison's disease occurs in all age groups and both sexes and very low cortisol levels can indicate you may have Addison’s.

Sings and Symptoms of Addison’s Disease

Symptoms of Addison's disease usually develop slowly, often over several months. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite
  • Darkening of your skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Low blood pressure, even fainting
  • Salt craving
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Nausea, diarrhea or vomiting (gastrointestinal symptoms)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle or joint pains
  • Irritability
  • Depression or other behavioral symptoms
  • Body hair loss or sexual dysfunction in women

Acute adrenal failure

Sometimes the signs and symptoms of Addison's disease may appear suddenly. Acute adrenal failure (addisonian crisis) can lead to life-threatening shock.

  • Severe weakness
  • Confusion
  • Pain in your lower back or legs
  • Severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, leading to dehydration
  • Reduced consciousness or delirium

What causes Addison’s disease?

There are two major classifications for Addison’s disease: primary adrenal insufficiency and secondary adrenal insufficiency.

Primary adrenal insufficiency

Primary adrenal insufficiency occurs when the adrenal glands are damaged and can no longer produce cortisol. This type of Addison’s disease is most often caused by an autoimmune disease which is when your immune system attacks your adrenal glands. In an autoimmune disease, your body’s immune system mistakes any organ or area of the body for a virus, bacteria, or another outside invader.

Other causes of primary adrenal insufficiency include:

  • prolonged administration of medications
  • infections in your body
  • Cancer and abnormal growths (tumors)
  • certain blood thinners used to control clotting in the blood

Secondary adrenal insufficiency

Secondary adrenal insufficiency occurs when the pituitary gland located in your brain can’t produce adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH plays important roles in releasing other hormones from the adrenal glands.

There are also many other causes of secondary adrenal insufficiency, including:

  • tumors
  • medications
  • genetics
  • traumatic brain injury

Who is at risk for Addison’s disease?

You may be at a higher risk for Addison’s disease if you:

  • have cancer
  • take anticoagulants (blood thinners)
  • have chronic infections like tuberculosis
  • had surgery to remove any part of your adrenal gland
  • have an autoimmune disease, like type 1 diabetes or Graves’ disease

Early detection and prevention of Addisons

If you have been feeling unwell for sometime and you have been experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of Addison’s Disease then it is important to get checked.

By detecting a health problem early you can make a range of lifestyle changes to improve your health or you may be able to get treatment early if needed.

Finding out about a problem early can mean that treatment is more effective.

How we can help?

We can check for underlying health problems such as Addison’s Disease using a sample of your hair.

This test is called a COT test and it works by taking your average cortisol levels over the last 3 months.

This test is a good indication of your overall health, underlying endocrine conditions and your future risk of developing chronic illness.

A COT test can help you manage and prevent chronic illness.

Not all risk factors are assessed by a COT test and other factors may increase your risk of future health problems.

How is this different to a blood test?

A COT test uses a sample of your hair to assess your cortisol levels over several months.

A blood test is only able to give you a short-term indication of your cortisol levels. Cortisol levels can change throughout the day so this can affect your results.

A sample of hair avoids having to take daily blood tests over several months and is more accurate than blood for testing your cortisol levels over time.

How will I get my results?

Before taking your test you will need to register your test kit online. You will receive an email when your results are ready and you will be able to view your results through your online portal.

If your results are abnormal one of our health professionals will call you to discuss this with you with information on what you can do next.

Cortigenix do not provide treatments but we will are able to discuss with you a range of options and appropriate services.

What will my results mean?

If you get a normal result this means that you are at lower risk of developing future chronic health problems. This does not mean you will never develop health problems in the future, just that you are at a lower risk at the moment.

If your results are abnormal it means you are at an increased risk of health problems in the future. An abnormal result can indicate an underlying health problem such as Addisons.

Further tests may be needed to investigate the cause and confirm if you have an underlying adrenal condition.

Finding out about a problem early can mean that treatment is more effective.

Buy now

Know your inner health. One simple test.