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Old 11-11-2012, 12:33 PM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Edmonton, AB
Posts: 3
dfoulston HB User
Re: New here; Frustrated & Have Questions (DHEA-S)

Hi ljhaze. I am 49 years old and just recently diagnosed with primary Addison's. I am a pharmacist and work in a hospital emergency department in Canada. Your symptoms certainly sound like they could be adrenal-related and you may well have early disease. Keep in mind that it can take many years (15 to 20) before your symptoms to become life-threatening, meaning your adrenal cortex has become almost completely non-functional (<10%).

The hair loss might well be adrenal-related. Body hair is closely associated with testosterone levels & DHEAS - very low testosterone & DHEAS levels correlate with loss of body hair. Testosterone is produced in the adrenals (in women). I don't know your age, but have you noticed any issues with sex drive (ie a complete loss of drive (libido) that can't be explained by regular aging?

If I were you, I would find myself a medical clinic that specializes in women's health and would be willing to check your hormonal levels. Ask for ACTH and testosterone levels at the very least. If the problem is occuring at the level of the adrenal, your ACTH will be high. If it is originating from the control centres in the brain (hypothalamus and pituitary), it may be low (or low-normal). If it is a pituitary-hypothalamic (central) problem, you will always have a normal response to the ACTH stim test, but your AM cortisol levels will continue to fall over time.

It pains me when the medical profession refuses to acknowledge there is such a thing as early adrenal disease or "weak" or "tired" adrenals. They KNOW it doesn't happen overnight! Addison's patient's will complain for years prior to diagnosis of feeling weak, tired & just not able to cope well with daily stressors. By the time the disease is finally diagnosed, it is usually during a crisis while hospitalized or, for those of us not so lucky, on autopsy. The deplorability of the medical management of this disease is that we generally have many years to figure it out and be prepared for potential failure. Instead, even the specialists refuse to admit that it exists! GP's will spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on diagnostic test after test and eventually decide that there is nothing at all wrong; that the patient must be "nuts!".

For more than 10 years prior to my diagnosis, I knew I had weak adrenals (I had low DHEAS, high ACTH and very low testosterone). I too had an endocrinologist (for hypothyroid) who told me there was no such thing as weak adrenals ... grrrrrr. My very supportive GP listened and heard my concerns, and even though she may not have believed me, was willing to test my cortisol level every year to ensure it hadn't dropped too low. She also tested my ACTH & testosterone every couple of years. I didn't have to wait for a crisis and hospitalization. My doc and I knew exactly what was happening as soon as my annual labs came back wonky (low sodium, high potassium, high BUN, low cortisol) and I was very quickly seen by an endocrinologist and treated (within 4 days!).

I encourage you to do this as well. Read and understand the signs & symptoms of adrenal failure - you already several. Develop a trusting relationship with a GP and ask her to check your AM cortisol level annually (must be checked before 10 AM in our lab). All the best to you.

PS. if/when you start to suddenly lose weight for no reason in particular (and can suddenly eat anything and everything you want!), and you start to feel weak and very dizzy (especially in the morning in the shower), get your lytes, BUN, cortisol labs checked and your POSTURAL BP.

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