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Last Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Addison Disease - Treatment Options, Management and Prevention

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Dr. Neeraj GargEndocrinologist • 15 Years Exp.MBBS, MD - Medicine, DM - Endocrinology
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Often, a medical crisis does not happen suddenly, and your body shows a few symptoms well before it reaches the critical phase. However, there are conditions when the symptoms occur quite suddenly, and one such is the Addisonian crisis.

Addison's disease is a condition that occurs when the body fails to produce sufficient levels of certain hormones that are secreted by the adrenal glands. In this disease, the adrenal glands produce too little cortisol and even low amounts of aldosterone at times. Often referred to as adrenal insufficiency, it may occur at any age, and both sexes are affected by it. The worst part is that the disease can be life-threatening.

The symptoms of Addisonian crisis-
While severe fatigue, hyperpigmentation, severe fatigue, lightheadedness, salt cravings, and muscle and joint pains are the common symptoms of Addison’s disease, pain in your lower back, severe vomiting and diarrhea, low blood pressure, and high potassium and low sodium are the symptoms of acute adrenal failure (Addisonian crisis).

The low levels of cortisol associated with the Addisonian crisis are life-threatening; hence, when you experience one or more of these symptoms you must seek professional care immediately.

Treatment options that are available for Addison's disease-
Nearly all treatments for Addison's disease involve hormone replacement therapies for correcting the steroid levels that the body is not sufficiently producing. Some of the most effective treatment options for Addison's disease include:

  1. Oral corticosteroid medicines- Prednisone, Hydrocortisone and Cortisone acetate may be used in the pill form for replacing cortisol. Sometimes, doctors also prescribe fludrocortisone for the replacement of aldosterone.
  2. Corticosteroid injections- This is given to people who cannot take oral pills.

People diagnosed with Addison’s disease are at risk of developing Addisonian crisis. Such people must be well-aware of how to tackle the condition if they are to face it. Some people have a home kit which includes hydrocortisone injection. One should not wait too long or wait to feel very weak before taking the injection. Also, it is important to call the emergency after taking the injection to get further treatment.

What should you do to prevent and manage the Addisonian crisis?

If you indulge in heavy workout sessions, you should take ample amount of sodium. This is also recommended when you are experiencing a stressful situation, including any infection, operation or some minor illness.
You should not skip your meals or indulge in binge eating, but focus on having a well-balanced diet. You should also take plenty of healthy fluids throughout the day. Avoid exercising or doing any physically strenuous job in hot and humid weather. Also, you need to balance your active stretch of time with adequate rest.

Taking the prescribed medications on time, and carrying a hydrocortisone kit is crucial. Also, you may carry a card stating the condition that can help during an emergency.

Addison’s disease, in most cases, cannot be cured; so, it is vital to be aware of the symptoms and the ways to manage them to avoid an emergency.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!