Munson Health
Adrenal Crisis

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by McCoy K

(Acute Adrenocortical Insufficiency)



Adrenal crisis may be caused by:
  • Rapid withdrawal from steroid therapy
  • Sepsis—a bloodstream infection
  • Surgical stress
  • Injury to the adrenal gland or surgical removal of adrenal gland
  • Damage to pituitary gland from hemorrhage (bleeding), infarction, surgery, or trauma
  • Thyroid hormone replacement in someone with adrenal insufficiency

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chances of developing adrenal crisis include:
  • Septic shock
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Chronic or frequent use of steroid medications
  • Tuberculosis or other granulomatous diseases
  • History of multiple autoimmune glandular diseases
  • HIV
  • Anti-coagulation therapy


American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service



Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians

Canadian Institute for Health Information



Adrenal crisis causes death in some people treated with human growth hormone. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Published September 24, 2012. Accessed June 4, 2014.

Adrenal insufficiency and Addison's disease. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service website. Available at: Updated May 14, 2014. Accessed June 4, 2014.

Adrenal insufficiency in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 16, 2013. Accessed June 4, 2014.

Omori K, Nomura K, et al. Risk factors for adrenal crisis in patients with adrenal insufficiency. Endocrine J. 2003; 50:745-752.

Thomas Z: an update on the diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency and the use of corticotherapy in critical illness. Ann Pharmacotherapy. 2007:41:1456-1465

Todd GRG, Acerini CL, et al. Survey of adrenal crisis associated with inhaled corticosteroids in the United Kingdom. Arch. Dis Child. 2002; 87:457-461.


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