Addisons Disease is a serious and life threatening illness where the Adrenal glands fail to function resulting in insufficient amounts of Cortisol and Aldosterone in the body. Here are 15 facts about Addisons Disease to help you better understand the condition.
Addison’s disease is not usually diagnosed until at least 90% of the adrenal cortex has been destroyed. This can take months or years and is often referred to as primary adrenal insufficiency.
Some of the symptoms of of Addisons Disease include severe fatigue and weakness, loss of weight, pigmentation of the skin, dizzyness and low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, salt cravings, painful muscles and joints.
Addisons Disease was first identified in the UK in 1855. The condition is named after Thomas Addison a doctor who first wrote about the illness whilst working at Guys Hospital in London.
People with Addisons Disease are steroid dependent. This means they are reliant upon taking cortisol medication every day. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” and without it the body would go into adrenal crisis and eventually die.
If you have Addisons, you will also need to take a medication called Fludrocortisone. This is prescribed to replace the aldosterone steroid normally produced by the adrenal glands. Without Aldosterone in the body their would be an electrolyte imbalance leading to low blood pressure and dehydration.
People on steroid replacement therapy will need to stress dose during times of illness such as infection, high temperature and fever. Addisons patients will need to be aware of their wellbeing and any illness will need to be compensated to prevent Adrenal crisis.
When someone with Addisons exercise in a way that is more physically demanding than usual, they will need to take a little extra steroid medication beforehand to help the body cope with the added stress.
Often sudden shocks such as being in a car crash, learning of the death of a loved one or a big argument can result in a need to increase Steroid coverage. Additional emotional stress can clear cortisol faster than usual and make an Addisons patient very unwell.
Addisons Patients will always need extra steroid coverage during dental procedures, operations and certain hospital tests which place more than usual stress on the body.
Often when low in cortisol, patients with Addisons disease can develop brain fog and poor concentration levels. This can affect the ability to work out what medication is needed. Therefore it is important to always wear a medic alert band.
Addisons patients will need to carry an emergency injection with them in case of sudden adrenal crisis. The emergency injection can be life saving. Many patients have died from adrenal crisis and the condition should be taken serious and can be life threatening.
If someone with Addisons has prolonged vomiting due to an illness or stomach bug, they will need an emergency injection and immediate hospital treatment.
Some Addisonians will need to increase their fludrocortisone medication when on holiday or under extreme temperature climbs around 30˚ Celsius. this will help to avoid dehydrations and becoming dangerously unwell.
Too much steroid coverage on a regular basis can result in Cushing’s Disease, weight gain, bone problems, diabetes and a moon shaped face. it is important for a patient to be on the correct dose so as to ensure they are not under or over replaced as both not enough and too much cortisol can have serious consequences.
Many people have not heard of Addisons and it is not always familiar to some doctors or medical staff. It is always a good idea to carry a letter about the illness incase of emergency and just incase the people treating the illness do not understand the importance of emergency cortisol replacement.
I hope these 15 facts are useful and helpful. Please do share this post to help spread the word and awareness for Addisons Disease and Adrenal Insufficiency.