Scarry dizziness… low cortisol?

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(I apologize for the long post but i tried to make it sufficiently detailed. I made this summary in hope of making the rest of the text more digestible.)

I was sent to ER and diagnosed with adrenal crisis. When i was discharged several days later this diagnosis was disputed.

I still have issues of hypoglycemia, blurry vision and dizzy feeling.

For the last few days i am also having skin issues, respiratory issues and mouth cavity inflammations - feels like my immune system isn’t working.

My only guess is it could be adrenal insufficiency/fatigue but cannot get tested for it at present.

Judging by what i have written below would you say my guess is likely to be correct.

Is there anything i can do to test and mend my situation?

My background:

- I used to never (EVER) become dizzy

- I am (was prior to this) extremely active

- Work all my waking hours (prior to this)

- Considerable caffeine intake (been off for 7 weeks now)

- Get approx. 8 hours of sleep per day

- exercise 5-7 days a week (did prior to this)

- Very skinny

- Never had any blood sugar issues (prior to this)

- For several months now i have been feeling very tired and had ‘’brain fog’’


About 5 weeks ago i started getting dizzy. It started very suddenly without a warning one midday - i turned my head aside and the room started spinning around. At the same time my vision got blurry and i felt like i am going to pass out. This was also accompanied by an extreme ‘’hot flash’’.

This subsided in a matter of seconds but for the majority of the remainder of that day I felt like i was dying. Other symptoms also appeared: stomach and intestinal pain, nausea, bloating (upper intestines), trembling and joint pain and the feeling of a pounding heart. It was so bad i could barely sit.

Towards the evening i got better and hungry as never before.

It felt at first like some kind of poisoning (i did drink a stingy/hot tasting goat milk the day before).

For the next week i was feeling better most of the time (though always tired) but i had milder recurrences of the initial episode once or twice a day. Each lasted from 30 minutes to 2 hours then subsided.

On day 6 i was feeling almost completely well but on day 7 the milder recurrences of the initial episode returned. They continued for 7 more days.

On day 15 (give or take a day) i felt good for the first 2 hours (after waking up) but then became very tired, nauseous and had stomach and intestinal pain. I couldn’t eat nor drink due to the nausea.

As hours progressed my symptoms were getting increasingly worse. Eventually i got hot flashes again and sweat was literally dripping from me (but i had no fever). In mid afternoon i became so weak i couldn’t even sit anymore and was taken to ER.

When i arrived there i was vomiting acid and bail. I was drifting in and out of sleep.

My blood sugar was 2 and potassium level was slightly below minimum normal.

The working diagnosis was ‘adrenal crisis’. They gave me an infusion of water, glucose and some chemical (i can’t remember the formula). Later they also added potassium.

For the next 2 days i was predominantly sleeping and was on water and glucose infusions.

On day 3 i was up, but my muscles were so weak i could barely even swallow. On day 4 i was out of the hospital but my muscles remained extremely weak for 5 more days.


Doctors checked my heart and also did an ultrasound of my stomach cavity and found nothing wrong. For some reason they ruled out adrenal insufficiency despite not having checked my hormone levels. The problem is that majority of the doctors do not officially recognise anything short of Addison's disease and since they found no physical defect of my adrenals they ruled out any insufficiency.

Besides slightly low potassium i also had (likely still have) low creatinine.

My dizziness and blurry vision episodes continued after getting home.

Eventually I started measuring my blood sugar every 2 hours and found it gets very low if i do not eat every 3 hours. And this also coincided with my dizziness.

Current status:

I am constantly eating to keep my sugar up and this fixed my vertigo. However i still get poor/blurry vision from time to time and a weird sensation at the back of my head which feels like the room is about to start spinning again.

I seem to get these when i work for a while but not after short term physical effort. I do not know why and it is freaking me out. I used to never be dizzy.

The second issue is i have random short periods (a few minutes) of what i can only describe as ‘’emotional weakness’’.

And the third is that i have a few bruises that are still green after 3 weeks.

Lastly, the last couple of days different mild infections have been piling up.

Thank you for any help

1 like, 12 replies

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12 Replies

  • Posted


    It sounds awful. I am new to adrenal issues myself, so I cannot suggest or recommend anything, but I wanted to let you know I read your entire post, and I understand what it's like to have mystifying (and scary) symptoms and no guidance. This is probably not the help you were looking for! In any case you're on my mind now and I hope you are able to find answers and some relief.

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    • Posted

      Thank you karen0310 i was already worried that the long text completely killed the post.

      I have an additional update on my condition:

      My blood sugar seems to be stabilizing and it seems it will slowly return to normal. I am eating a lot of protein (especially early in the day) and the touted ‘’good’’ oils/fats; it seems to help.

      Sugar related dizziness seems to have subsided, but dizziness still occurs 1 or 2 times a day for a brief period. I also get weak and tired at the same time.

      Since this is unrelated to my sugar levels i am looking for a logical explanation of this. I can tolerate everything else, but i really need to mend this dizziness.

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    • Posted

      My thoughts are that you need a new doctor & more thorough work up. Your initial symptoms really did sound like adrenal crisis. Were you taking any medication that could have triggered it? I have been on high dose prednisone for 2+ years (I have auto-immune disorder); I experienced the same symptoms as you, but it happened after a massive IV dose of prednisone with no follow up of oral prednisone. So essentially, my adrenal glands crashed & burned. I did not progress as far as vomiting & losing consciousness, because I finally realized what had happened, & was able to take an increased dose of prednisone at home; the symptoms slowly subsided. (Going to the ER would have been a better option, but I couldn't get there). I saw an endocrinologist this week who confirmed all, diagnosed the adrenal insufficiency, and did some other tests as well.

      I am betting the chemical they gave you in the hospital, that you can't remember the name of, was some type of cortisone. There really is such a thing as adrenal insufficiency, separate from Addison's, and it seems ridiculous that your doctor doesn't recognize it. However: you could have something altogether different--neurological problems, inner ear problems--multiple things can cause vertigo; you could have low blood pressure; lots of different conditions can cause low blood sugar. Maybe your body is producing too much insulin, for example. It should be worked up! Just because they can't find an actual problem on your adrenal glands doesn't mean there's *not* a problem, somewhere else. I would keep pestering for more tests.

      As for your blood sugar--good job testing & monitoring that on your own. Be sure to keep good notes so you can show the doctor what's going on. Be careful not to eat too much "fast sugars" to keep your blood sugar up, though.. you want to balance the carbs & protein to keep your levels more steady.

      I'm sorry that you're having to play detective on your own! It can be very discouraging when you feel something is not right and can't get anyone to listen. :0(

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    • Posted

      To be honest I avoid doctors like the plague as i have had many bad experiences with them. I only go to a doctor if it is the last option so i'll avoid any of their tests for now redface

      I am not on any medications and have not been for over a decade. The only corticosteroid I was ever on was flixotide (used it for years, but I stopped many years ago).

      You are right, there are many causes of dizziness. Since my sugar has stabilized I have only been having short sporadic dizziness episodes and I think I found the reason – weak neck muscles. I noticed that I only get dizzy after a certain sideways movement, and for the past 4 days I was very careful to keep my muscles tight while moving my head and I didn't experience any dizziness in this time.

      I guess my weakened muscles must have been causing some nerve pressure between vertebra's.

      Main two problems solved I think smile

      Now I just need to figure out how to fix all the (not so mild any more) infections.

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    • Posted


      Sorry for digging up old thread but hows your situation Looks right now? I have very similar problems as you had and i really want to know if you know anything. Any tips, info etc would be nice

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    • Posted

      That is very interesting..this is the first I'm hearing on that. Whenever I get dizzy spells and almost black out my neck always feels pinched on a nerve..and it's only when I make fast movements with my head. Thanks for the info smile may I ask how you plan to fix that?

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  • Posted

    Hello nevertoomuch

    I have secondary adrenal insufficiency due to the use of prednisolone for my asthma & copd.

    The only test test that is efficient is the A C T H test which shows whether your adrenal glands are a wee bit off or, like mine, have completely shutdown.  I’m on steroids for life. Plus an Endocrinologist is the one that performs these tests. You have to stay in a room for a couple of hours & you’re injected with chemicals to see how your adrenal function. 

    If you have not had this test then you won’t know if you are Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency.

    Hope this helps



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  • Posted

    I have just learned that I have low cortisol and have just taken the two hour release test waiting for results. Go to an endocrinologist. Due to the hormonal affects and possibly thyroid, it would cover all your bases in this category. I have had bouts of fatique, weakness, brain fog, dry skin issues, for years, blaming it on allergies and candida. Now it is all worse than ever with nausea and lower back pain. It was only this bad 30 years ago under extreme stress. From what I have gathered I will most likely have to take a low dose of cortisol. Will keep you posted.😊

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  • Posted


    I am wondering if you found a solution? I originally only had stomach pain for months but when CT and EGD came back normal, I was suprised. Then I thought I would just deal with it. Other than that, I felt completely healthy and normal. 3 mo later I nearly blacked out multiple times in a matter of a couple hours while I was sitting. Since then, I have been dizzy, lightheaded, weak and shaky all day long (sugar not to blame), and I have been unable to perform simple daily tasks. I’ve had my brain, heart, abdomen, vitamin levels, glucose, thyroid, BP (most of what you can think of) checked. At 6 weeks I started to give up and thought I just had anxiety. I even started on meds. When those meds didn’t help I turned to the web. I wanted to stay away from self diagnosing but doctors weren’t helping and I was desperate to feel normal again. That’s where I learned about cortisol. And let me just say how frusting it was to know at this point not one doctor mentioned ANYTTHING about adrenal glands or cortisol. I went back to my pcp in hopes she would test me but she gave me the run around for another 2 weeks. Here I am at week 9 and was able to do the blood test this morning (02/16/18) in hopes that I can get some answers. Can you please post an update on your story as I will be broken if this test comes back normal like all my other labs. I will post my update when I learn more. 

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  • Posted

    Hi so I thought I should reply cuz I read this at random, I never do this, but I'm 28 I have Addison's disease, well shmidtz syndrome- PAS 2 ( hypothyroidism, low blood pressure/sugar, Addison's) I've been in 3 comas before they realized what I had. I saw an endocrinologist and he put me on hydro cortisone and 3 other steroids throughout the day. I've had so many issues I wouldn't know where to start, the vertiligo is awful..I get it all the time especially at work..I get episodes of uncontrollable vomiting..not to mention feeling faint and tired and weak 24/7. I've found nothing that blood pressure stays concentration and memory lack completely...anyway just saying I feel you man. It's hard s**t to go through. Glad to see your getting through it somehow kinda motivates me to try harder.

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