Addison’s Disease relates to the adrenal glands and occurs when you are not putting out enough hormones secreted by them. The main problem in Addison’s is not enough cortisol. This disease can occur at any age, but is most common in people between 30 to 50 years of age. This is a serious chronic medical condition that can be very life-threatening if not carefully treated.
Treatment for this disease needs the help of an endocrinologist since they are specialized in dealing with many glandular types of disorders other than diabetes.
The most common symptoms of Addison’s Disease are having, (1) muscle weakness and fatigue, (2) darkening of the skin, (3) hypotension which is low blood pressure, (4) fainting spells, (5) unintended weight loss and no appetite, (6) salt cravings, (7) low blood sugars, (8) upset stomach and diarrhea, and, (9) depression and agitation.
These symptoms can appear suddenly, although this is not as common. If they do appear that way, that is known as an adrenal crisis. In this case, things such as pain in the back, very severe vomiting with diarrhea, and high potassium levels can occur. This is an emergency situation which needs immediate medical care.
The reason for Addison’s Disease is an autoimmune dysfunction. If your system launches an attack on your adrenal glands, this could be the result. Someone that also has other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes is more prone to this medical condition. Other causes that have been researched as strong possibilities include tuberculosis, other adrenal gland infections, or certain cancers.
If you have secondary adrenal insufficiency, this is usually brought on by a pituitary gland dysfunction in the brain. This all stems from the pituitary glands ability to make ACTH hormones.
Testing procedures for diagnosing of Addison’s Disease are done with several blood tests, and ACTH stimulation test, imaging tests, and insulin-induced hypoglycemia test.
Blood tests will be done to measure sodium and potassium levels and also the antibodies that are connected with Addison’s Disease.
Imaging testing which is a CT scan or MRI takes an in-depth look at the adrenal glands sitting on top of the kidneys and also looks for other abnormalities.
In an ACTH test, this involves checking cortisol levels in the blood.
In the insulin-induced hypoglycemia test, doctors inject you with insulin and then measure your blood sugar levels. There is some relation there between the two that can determine more about what ACTH is doing in relation to insulin.
Treating Addison’s Disease means taking the replacement hormones that are missing. This involves taking corticosteroid drugs. You may need one or more hormones to correct the deficiency. These involve those medicines such as Prednisone, Cortef, or Florinef.