What’s it called again?

Like most sites dealing with primary aldosteronism, I’ll probably use several terms to describe the same condition: PA, hyperaldosteronism, and Conn’s Syndrome*. The latter term seems somewhat antiquated, but some people still use it. I think it breaks down this way, broadest to narrowest:

Hyperaldosteronism means a person produces too much aldosterone. The cause can be primary or secondary. I believe the most common cause of secondary aldosteronism is renal artery stenosis (which, for the record, I’ve been screened for and don’t have). On this site, I’ll be dealing with primary aldosteronism.

Primary aldosteronism (PA), sometimes called primary hyperaldosteronism, is what I have. It means that for one reason or another, the adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone. One cause is a unilateral adenoma (which is what my doctor believes I have), in which case surgery is the treatment of choice, as only one adrenal gland is affected. Other causes affect both glands, and surgery is usually not done; these causes include bilateral adenomas – one or more in each gland – or bilateral hyperplasia, which is an enlargement of both adrenal glands. Unilateral hyperplasia can also occur; I don’t know too much about this as it seems to be less common and it’s not what I’m dealing with. The distinction to make is that when it’s unilateral, surgery can be an option; when it’s bilateral, the only treatment is medication for life.

Conn’s Syndrome was named after endocrinologist Jerome W. Conn, who was the first to make the connection that an aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) was associated with a collection of specific symptoms. There is a brief Wikipedia article about him here. Conn’s Syndrome (sometimes just called Conn Syndrome) originally meant hyperaldosteronism caused by a unilateral APA, but is sometimes used to describe hyperaldosteronism of any variety now. I haven’t heard any of my medical team use this term, but on the support sites dealing with hyperaldosteronism, other patients use it so I assume their doctors do too.

*Truth be told, I’ll probably most often just call it PA, because really, I’m lazy and it’s short!

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