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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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What causes decreased cortisol and DHEA levels?

Answered by
Dr. Mirjeta Guni


Practicing since :2006

Answered : 2021 Questions

Posted on Tue, 21 Mar 2017 in Thyroid Problem and Hormonal Problems
Question: I recently had a saliva test to check for adrenal fatigue. In December, I had a still birth at almost 6 months pregnant, and had two other miscarriages last year. I also take 75mg of synthroid daily. My body has been under a lot of stress in the last year. My cortisol levels an DHEA levels are extremely low. My naturopath wants to put me on 10mg of Cortef in the morning, 10mg at noon and 5mg at 4pm as well as 12.5mg of DHEA. Do you think this is a good protocol? Well I experience weight gain? Is there anyway to avoid this?
Answered by Dr. Mirjeta Guni 52 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Adrenal insufficiency treatment:

Detailed Answer:
Hello and thank you for asking!
I have gone carefully through your concern and the lab. exams attached.
The cortisol and DHEA levels are low but you need to see and endocrinologist who will try to find the cause of adrenal insufficiency (primary or secondary) and monitor closely your response to treatment.
Probably it is primary autoimmune adrenal insufficiency as you are also diagnosed with Hashimoto thyroiditis (with autoimmune origin too), but it should be confirmed by checking the antibodies and he will give you instructions how to increase the dose of Cortef in stress, illness ect.
I do agree to use Cortef (with the dose prescribed), the dose of DHEA suggested in adrenal insufficiency is 50 mg daily (your treating physician will decide rather to take it or not after excluding the contraindications of DHEA use).
Regarding the weight gain, usually adrenal insufficiency causes weight loss, which improves after starting treatment with hydrocortisone. So, probably the dose of levothyroxine should be revised to be sure that your TSH is not high with the actual dose.
Hope the information will help.
Kind regards,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad
Follow up: Dr. Mirjeta Guni 18 minutes later
Thank you for your response.

I have been referred to an endocriniologist but it may take 1 or 2 months before getting in, so I wanted to start something now.

I have never been diagnosed with Hashimoto's... I had hypothyroid, but with synthroid my TSH is now at about 1.15.

I haven't lost any weight, and I have tried to lose weight after having my baby in December I went on the ketogenic diet-- and found that I was actually gaining weight. low dhea results in low muscle tone right? I have been exercising regularly and have not seen progress.

So as of now until I see my specialist do you agree wtih the protocol she gave me?
Answered by Dr. Mirjeta Guni 37 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Cortef dose adjustment;

Detailed Answer:
Welcome back!
The most common cause of hypothyroidism at your age is Hashimoto thyroiditis, that is why i presumed it.
Anyway, continue with 75 mcg.
The weight gain you experienced after giving birth, may need months to get back to normal and is not related to adrenal insufficiency.
I do agree with the protocol but i would suggest to keep monitoring the weight and the blood pressure.
If you gain weight or the blood pressure tends to raise, lower the dose of Cortef with 5 mg in week 10-10-5 mg , than 10-5-5 mg than 10-5 mg .
You may need from 10 to 25 mg of hydrocortisone, the clinical symptoms are indicators of the right dose.
All the best.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad
Follow up: Dr. Mirjeta Guni 16 minutes later
And 12.5mg of DHEA ok? Are you able to write prescriptions via online?
Answered by Dr. Mirjeta Guni 14 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Unfortunately not allowed to give on line prescriptions!

Detailed Answer:
About DHEA, even though it is a low dose i told you a detailed clinical examination and medical history is needed before deciding to give it.
There are some contraindications (if you have risks for ovarian, breast cancer ect) that should be excluded before. So it would be better to wait a couple of months.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad

The User accepted the expert's answer

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