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Thyroid Diseases

Could This be Adrenal Insufficiency?

05/31/2007

Question:

My son is 22 - he has extreme fatigue, especially after eating. He has had to quit his job, move home and give up his life in general the past 6 months. For 3 yrs he had his own home in Houston, TX, went to work everyday and now he is barely functioning. My father is a retired physician and suggested that my son needs to be checked for primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency and for any pituitary or thyroid problems. I have never even heard of this, so that is why I am writing. I just want my son to regain his energy and his life. This doesn`t seem normal for a young person his age. He has muscle weakness and fatigue that has worsened over the past 6 months, weight loss (and he is eating like a textbook - a doctor in TX suggested he may have hypoglycemia since his bloodwork showed a low report at the time it was checked). He has cravings for sweet and salty foods and is just simply too tired to enjoy life.

Any direction you could give as to our next step would be greatly appreciated! Does an endocrinologist work directly with these type problems? We have gone the gastroenerology route and everything looks fine - the last test is tomorrow for a small bowel series. But all looks normal according to the tests. I guess that is why my father has suggested a possible adrenal/pituitary/thyroid problem going on! Thank you again for your help!

Answer:

The symptoms you have mentioned are extremely nonspecific. Thyroid disease and adrenal insufficiency would certainly be among the possible causes. An endocrinologist could order tests for these, but it might be better to start with a thorough evaluation by a good family practitioner or general internist.

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Response by:

Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University