Addison’s Disease vs Cushing’s Syndrome Nursing

Cushing’s and Addison’s Disease. An endocrine NCLEX review on how to differentiate between Cushing’s Syndrome/Disease vs Addison’s and Addisonian Crisis. In this video, I will discuss the pathophysiology, signs & symptoms, and nursing interventions for these endocrine disorders of the adrenal cortex and pituitary glands.

 

Addison’s Disease and Cushing’s Syndrome/Disease review notes for nursing school and NCLEX exam. In nursing school and for the NCLEX exam, you will need to know how to provide care to a patient with either Addison’s Disease or Cushing’s.

However, many students get these two endocrine disorders confused, but these review notes will help you differentiate between them.

These NCLEX review notes will cover:

  • Signs and Symptoms of Addison’s Disease vs Cushing’s
  • Causes of Addison’s Disease and Cushing’s
  • Nursing Management of Addison’s Disease and Cushing’s

After reviewing these notes, don’t forget to take the Addison’s Disease vs Cushing’s Quiz.

Addison’s Disease vs Cushing’s

Major Players in these endocrine disorders:

  • Adrenal Cortex
  • Steroid Hormones
    • Corticosteroids (specifically Aldosterone (mineralocorticoid) & Cortisol (glucocorticoid)

Role of Adrenal Cortex: releases steroid hormones and sex hormones

Role of Aldosterone: regulates blood pressure through renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, helps retain sodium and secretes potassium (balances sodium and potassium levels).

Role of Cortisol: “STRESS Hormone” helps the body deal with stress such as illness or injury, increases blood glucose though glucose metabolism, break downs fats, proteins, and carbs, regulates electrolytes.

Cushing’s (Syndrome & Disease)

Cushing’s: hyper-secretion of CORTISOL (watch video for clever ways to remember this)

Cushing’s Syndrome vs Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s Syndrome: caused by an outside cause or medical treatment such as glucocorticoid therapy

Cushing’s Disease: caused from an inside source due to the pituitary gland producing too much ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone) which causes the adrenal cortex to release too much cortisol.

Signs & Symptoms of Cushing’s

Remember the mnemonic: “STRESSED” (remember there is too much of the STRESS hormone CORTISOL)

Skin fragile

Truncal obesity with small arms

Rounded face (appears like moon), Reproductive issues amennorhea and ED in male(due to adrenal cortex’s role in secreting sex hormones)

Ecchymosis, Elevated blood pressure

Striae on the extremities and abdomen (Purplish)

Sugar extremely high (hyperglycemia)

Excessive body hair especially in women…and Hirsutism (women starting to have male characteristics), Electrolytes imbalance: hypokalemia

Dorsocervical fat pad (Buffalo hump), Depression

Causes of Cushing’s

  • Glucocorticoid drug therapy ex: Prednisone
  • Body causing it: due to tumors and cancer on the *pituitary glands or adrenal cortex, or genetic predisposition

Nursing Management for Cushing’s Syndrome

  • Prep patient for Hypophysectomy to remove the pituitary tumor
  • Prep patient for Adrenalectomy:
    • If this is done educate pt about cortisol replacement therapy after surgery
  • Risk for infection and skin breakdown
  • Monitor electrolytes blood sugar, potassium, sodium, and calcium levels

Addison’s Disease

Addison’s: Hyposecretion of Aldosterone & Cortisol (watch the video for a clever way on how to remember this and not get it confused with Cushing’s)

Signs & Symptoms of Addison’s Disease

Remember the phrase: “Low STEROID Hormones” (remember you have low production of aldosterone & cortisol which are STEROID hormones)

Sodium & Sugar low (due to low levels of cortisol which is responsible for retention sodium and increases blood glucose), Salt cravings

Tired and muscle weakness

Electrolyte imbalance of high Potassium and high Calcium

Reproductive changes…irregular menstrual cycle and ED in men

lOw blood pressure (at risk for vascular collapse)….aldosterone plays a role in regulating BP

Increased pigmentation of the skin (hyperpigmentation of the skin)

Diarrhea and nausea, Depression

Causes of Addison’s Disease

  • Autoimmune due to the adrenal cortex becoming damaged due to the body attacking itself:
    • Tuberculosis/infections
    • Cancer
    • Hemorrhaging of the adrenal cortex due to a trauma

Nursing Management of Addison’s Disease

  • Watching glucose and K+ level
  • Administer medications to replace the low hormone levels of cortisol and aldosterone
  • For replacing cortisol:
    • ex: Prednisone, Hydrocortisone
      • Education: Patient needs to report if they are having stress such as illness, surgery, or extra stress in life ( will need to increase dosage), take medication exactly as prescribed….don’t stop abruptly without consulting with MD.
  • For replacing aldosterone:
    • ex: Fludrocortisone aka Florinef
      • Education: consume enough salt..may need extra salt
  • Wearing a medical alert bracelet
  • Eat diet high in proteins and carbs, and make sure to consume enough sodium
  • Avoid illnesses, stress, strenuous exercise

Watch for Addisonian Crisis

This develops when Addison’s Disease isn’t treated.

In addisonian crisis, the patient has extremely LOW CORTISOL levels (life threatening).

Remember the 5 S’s

  1. Sudden pain in stomach, back, and legs
  2. Syncope (going unconscious)
  3. Shock
  4. Super low blood pressure
  5. Severe vomiting, diarrhea and headache
  • NEED IV Cortisol STAT:
    • Solu-Cortef and IV fluids (D5NS to keep blood sugar and sodium levels good and fluid status)
  • Watch for risk for infection, neuro status (confusion, agitation), electrolyte levels (sodium and potassium, glucose)

Addison’s vs Cushing’s Quiz

 

From http://www.registerednursern.com/addisons-disease-vs-cushings-review-notes-for-nclex/

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