Polyglandular autoimmune syndrome (PAS) is made up of a group of autoimmune disorders of the endocrine glands. The syndrome results in failure of the glands to produce their hormones. The endocrine system consists of the group of glands and organs in the body which produce and release hormones necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Among these are the pancreas, the ovaries and testes, thyroid and the adrenal glands.
Polyglandular Autoimmune Syndrome (PAS) occurs when the immune system attacks the endocrine glands and cripples hormone production. There are four different kinds of PAS:
Type I PAS generally affects children about 10 or 12 years of age. It may start with chronic yeast infections that progress to the parathyroid and adrenal glands, resulting in hypothyroidism and Addison's disease.
Type II PAS occurs in adults. Women are three times more likely to develop the adrenal gland insufficiency. It includes the thyroid (hypothyroidism) and pancreas (type I diabetes). Pernicious anemia and rheumatoid arthritis are also detected with type II.
Type III PAS primarily affects women in their 30's. It begins with thyroid malfunction and progresses to other autoimmune disorders, including diabetes, pernicious anemia or celiac disease, but does not typically include adrenal gland malfunction.
Type IV PAS usually involves two or more autoimmune endocrine diseases and does not follow the typical pattern for the other types of PAS. A person with type I diabetes might develop celiac disease without adrenal or thyroid involvement. Type 4 PAS is not as common as the other three PAS disorders.
Treatment is determined by which endocrine glands are affected or which hormone is needed. For instance, a person with type I diabetes will need to take insulin; a person with adrenal insufficiency will need cortisol. Someone with thyroid deficiency will have to take daily doses of the thyroid replacement hormone.
Once these disorders are diagnosed, recovery and living a normal active life will include little more than daily shots or ingested pills along with a healthy diet and routine exercise. Rest will come naturally when the body is fully restored to its normal expediencies.