What are the causes and related conditions associated with adrenal crisis?

Updated: Oct 11, 2018
  • Author: Kevin M Klauer, DO, EJD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Causes and related conditions include the following:

  • Surgery

  • Anesthesia (eg, etomidate)

  • Volume loss (unmasks, unless there is bleeding in the adrenals)

  • Trauma

  • Asthma (steroid withdrawal)

  • Hypothermia (a consequence, not cause)

  • Alcohol (not well substantiated)

  • Myocardial infarction (unmasks but does not cause)

  • Fever/infection: In the aforementioned study from the Netherlands, Smans et al found that among patients with adrenal insufficiency, the existence of comorbidity is the most important risk factor for adrenal crisis, with infections being the most common precipitating factors [7]

  • Hypoglycemia (more likely a consequence rather than cause)

  • Pain (unmasks, but does not cause)

  • Psychoses or depression (associated with, but not causative)

  • Exogenous steroid withdrawal

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