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There’s a common saying in medicine: “When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.” It makes sense. After all, the obvious answer or the most common diagnosis will be correct most of the time. That is, if a young, generally healthy person has a mild cough, it makes sense to look for an upper respiratory infection or simple cold and not immediately jump to the possibility of lung cancer. But sometimes it is lung cancer, and that’s why, while the odds are that when you hear hooves it’s a horse, it’s important to remember that every once in a while, it’s a zebra.
Adrenal insufficiency is a condition resulting from insufficient hormone production by the adrenal glands, which are located on top of each kidney. Typically, these glands produce three types of hormones (glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, and androgens), and when they fail to do so, the result is adrenal insufficiency. Although it is very difficult to detect and diagnose this condition early, once it is diagnosed, adrenal insufficiency is a highly treatable, yet lifelong, disease that typically does not negatively impact activity level or life expectancy if treated properly.
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