Hydrocortisone emergency in pituitary patients: adrenal/addisonian crisis

Secondary adrenal insufficiencyHydrocortisone is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland. A good majority of people with pituitary conditions have to take replacement hydrocortisone daily as they don't produce this naturally. The condition is referred to as a secondary adrenal insufficiency.If any person became ill or were to suffer severe shock, the body would naturally increase the output of cortisol from the adrenals. However, people who need to take replacement hydrocortisone have to increase their ‘chemical' dose to help mimic the cortisol surge they don't naturally have.If the patient has a mild illness such as a basic cold or flu, they would increase their hydrocortisone tablet dose and recover normally. But if the patient is vomiting, has a serious illness, is involved in an accident and suffers severe shock they would, and quite quickly, experience what patients and their families may term a ‘cortisol crisis, or, as more commonly known in medical circles as an ‘adrenal’ or ‘Addisonian crisis’.

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