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Adrenal Insufficiency In Children


  • Adrenal insufficiency is a condition where your child's adrenal glands do not make enough hormones (body chemicals). The adrenal glands are small, triangular glands found above each of your child's kidneys. The hormones help keep the fluid and salt balance normal in your child's body. They also help keep his blood pressure normal and control how his body uses sugar, fats, and proteins. Your child may have been born with the condition, or he may get it after birth.
  • Infants may appear weak and ill, and have feeding problems. Older children may have muscle pains, tummy aches, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Your child may need blood and urine tests and genetic screening. Computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and stomach ultrasound may also be done. Treatments include intravenous (IV) therapy, steroid medicines, and hormone replacement therapy. With early treatment, your child's symptoms may be relieved and adrenal crisis may be prevented.



  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.
  • Steroid medicine: This medicine is given because your child's adrenal glands are not making enough hormones. This medicine may help your child feel better, but may also have unwanted effects. He may need to take this medicine for the rest of his life. You may need to change how much medicine he takes if he is ill or has increased stress. Ask your child's caregiver when to increase his medicine. Do not stop giving this medicine to your child without talking to your caregiver. Stopping on your own may cause a very bad response.

Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.

Medical alert bracelet or necklace:

Make sure your child wears a medical alert bracelet, or necklace, that says he has adrenal insufficiency. You may get one from your local drugstore or contact the MedicAlert Foundation listed below:

  • MedicAlert Foundation
    2323 Colorado Avenue
    Turlock , CA 95382
    Phone: 1- 888 - 633-4298
    Web Address:

Other ways to help my child:

You can do any of the following to help your child:

  • Give your child sugar-containing snacks in cases of long exercise or activities.
  • Make sure you have a blood glucose monitoring device and glucose gel at home.
  • Visit your child's caregiver at least once a year. This is needed so his caregiver can make changes to the amount of medicine your child takes. As your child grows, he may need more medicine to keep him healthy.


  • Your child feels dizzy when standing or sitting-up.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has nausea (upset tummy), vomiting (throwing up), or tummy pain.
  • Your child is sweating more than usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition, treatment, or care.


  • Your child has shaking chills or a high fever.
  • Your child has dry skin and lips, and is very thirsty.
  • Your child faints.
  • Your child refuses to eat or drink.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Adrenal Insufficiency In Children (Aftercare Instructions)

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