8 Things You Should Know About Addison’s Disease

adrenal-insufficiency

 

Cortisol gets a bad rap these days. (Guilty!) Yes, this hormone surges when you’re stressed. And yes, chronic stress is bad news for your health. But while too much cortisol can lead to all sorts of stress-related side effects, too little cortisol is equally debilitating.

Just ask someone with Addison’s disease. If you suffer from this condition, your adrenal glands fail to make adequate amounts of cortisol, says Betul Hatipoglu, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic.

Cortisol plays a role in regulating your blood pressure, heart function, digestion, and a lot else, Hatipoglu explains. So if your adrenal glands poop out and your cortisol levels plummet, a lot can go wrong. (In as little as 30 days, you can be a whole lot slimmer, way more energetic, and so much healthier just by following the simple, groundbreaking plan in The Thyroid Cure!)

Here’s what you need to know about this condition—starting with its craziest symptom.

It can make your teeth appear whiter.

Hatipoglu once met with a patient who was suffering from fatigue, belly pain, and mild weight loss. “Her doctors thought she was depressed,” Hatipoglu recalls. Toward the end of their appointment, Hatipoglu noticed the woman’s teeth looked very white. She realized they looked white because the woman’s skin was tan. “I asked her if she’d been on vacation, and she said she hadn’t been in the sun, and that’s when I knew,” Hatipoglu says. Some Addison’s-related hormone shifts can make the skin appear darker, almost like a tan. “Addison’s is the only disease I know of that can cause darkening of the skin,” she says.

Its (other) symptoms are popular ones.

 Along with darker skin, other symptoms of Addison’s include nausea, mild-to-severe abdominal or bone pain, weight loss, a lack of energy, forgetfulness, and low blood pressure, Hatipoglu says. Of course, those same symptoms are linked to many other health issues, from thyroid disease to cancer. “It’s very easy to confuse with other disorders, so many people see a lot of doctors before finally receiving a proper diagnosis,” she says. (One exception: For young women who develop Addison’s disease, loss of body hair is a warning sign, Hatipoglu adds.)
It’s rare.
Doctors also miss or misinterpret the symptoms of Addison’s disease because it’s very uncommon. “I’m not sure if it’s quite one in a million, but it’s very rare,” Hatipoglu says. “It makes sense that many doctors don’t think of it when examining a patient with these symptoms.”
It’s often confused with adrenal insufficiency.

A lot of online resources mention Addison’s disease and adrenal insufficiency as though they were two names for the same condition. They’re not the same, Hatipoglu says. While a thyroid issue or some other hormone-related imbalance could mess with your adrenal function, Addison’s disease refers to an autoimmune disorder in which your body attacks and destroys your adrenal glands.

That destruction can happen quickly.

While it takes months or even years for some Addison’s sufferers to lose all hormone production in their adrenal glands, for others the disease can knock out those organs very rapidly—in a matter of days, Hatipoglu says. “That’s very uncommon,” she adds. But compared to other less-severe adrenal issues, the symptoms of Addison’s tend to present more dramatically, she explains. That means a sufferer is likely to experience several of the symptoms mentioned above, and those symptoms will continue to grow worse as time passes.

Anybody can get it.

Addison’s is not picky. It can strike at any age, regardless of your sex or ethnicity, Hatipoglu says. While there’s some evidence that genetics may play a role—if other people in your family have the disease or some other endocrine disorder, that may increase your risk—there’s really no way to predict who will develop the disease, she adds.

Screening for Addison’s is pretty simple.

If your doctor suspects Addison’s, he or she will conduct a blood test to check for your levels of cortisol and another hormone called ACTH. “Usually the results of that screening are very clear,” Hatipoglu says. If they’re not, some follow-up tests can determine for sure if you have the condition.

There are effective treatments.

Those treatments involve taking oral hormone supplements.  In extreme cases, if the patient’s body does not properly absorb those supplements, injections may be necessary, Hatipoglu explains. “But patients live a normal life,” she adds. “It’s a treatable disease, and the treatments are effective.”

From http://www.prevention.com/health/addisons-disease-symptoms

Low Cortisol or an Adrenal Crisis – Learning the difference

Some are very sick and believe it can be treated at home, others are low on cortisol and believe they urgently need Emergency Department treatments. It can be very hard to tell the difference at times.

Many with Addison’s Disease, especially in the early years after diagnosis, don’t have a clear understanding of what an Adrenal Crisis is­.

Some are very sick and believe it can be treated at home, others are low on cortisol and believe they urgently need Emergency Department treatments.  It can be very hard to tell the difference at times.

Then we have the Dr’s view, based on books, not on experience, which is, don’t know so won’t treat.

THE FACTS:

  1. Low Cortisol WILL lead to an Adrenal Crisis, if not dealt with;
  2. Adrenal Crisis DOES need Emergency Medical Treatment;
  3. Adrenal Crisis WILL lead to Death (or worse) if not treated urgently and correctly;
  4. Dr’s DO cause Adrenal Crisis’ because they don’t know, or don’t listen to their patients.

I am guessing the first thing you are asking is…

View original post 2,110 more words

Living with an Addisonian

(Low Cortisol or an Adrenal Crisis – PDF of this blog.)

Many with Addison’s Disease, especially in the early years after diagnosis, don’t have a clear understanding of what an Adrenal Crisis is­.

Some are very sick and believe it can be treated at home, others are low on cortisol and believe they urgently need Emergency Department treatments.  It can be very hard to tell the difference at times.

Then we have the Dr’s view, based on books, not on experience, which is, don’t know so won’t treat.

THE FACTS:

  1. Low Cortisol WILL lead to an Adrenal Crisis, if not dealt with;
  2. Adrenal Crisis DOES need Emergency Medical Treatment;
  3. Adrenal Crisis WILL lead to Death (or worse) if not treated urgently and correctly;
  4. Dr’s DO cause Adrenal Crisis’ because they don’t know, or don’t listen to their patients.

I am guessing the first thing you are asking is…

View original post 2,110 more words

Adrenal Insufficiency: Primary and Secondary

By Dr Tomislav Meštrović, MD, PhD

Adrenal insufficiency is a condition that develops when most of the adrenal gland is not functioning normally. Primary adrenal insufficiency arises due to the damage of the glands or because of using drugs that halt synthesis of cortisol. On the other hand, secondary adrenal insufficiency stems from processes that inhibit the secretion of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) by the hypophysis as a result of a hypothalamic or pituitary pathology. The former is sometimes also referred to as tertiary adrenal insufficiency.

Adrenal insufficiency is still a significant challenge for both patients and their physicians, but also scientists and researchers. In the past decade, long-term studies with adequate follow-up have shown a surge in mortality and morbidity, as well as impaired quality of life in individuals with this condition.

Primary Adrenal Insufficiency

In developed countries, the most common cause of primary adrenal insufficiency is autoimmune adrenalitis, whereas in the developing world tuberculosis is still considered a primary causative factor. Moreover, in young males, an X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (also known as the less severe form of adrenomyeloneuropathy) must also be considered.

Histopathologically, in autoimmune primary adrenal insufficiency, there is a diffuse mononuclear cell infiltrate that can gradually progress to atrophy. Primary adrenal insufficiency is linked to both cortisol and mineralocorticoid deficiency.

Recent research drew attention to drug-related and infectious causes of adrenal insufficiency. Antifungal agents are known to substantially reduce cortisol synthesis, while imunosuppression associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has resulted in a resurgence of infectious causes, most notably tuberculous and CMV adrenalitis.

Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency

Secondary adrenal insufficiency has three principal causes: adrenal suppression after exogenous glucocorticoid or ACTH administration, abnormalities of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland that lead to ACTH deficiency, as well as adrenal suppression upon the correction of endogenous glucocorticoid hypersecretion.

Any lesion of the hypophysis or hypothalamus can result in secondary adrenal insufficiency; some of the examples are space-occupying lesions such as adenomas, craniopharyngiomas, sarcoidosis, fungal infections, trauma, and also metastases from distant malignant processes.

The histologic appearance of the adrenal glands in secondary adrenal insufficiency can range from normal to complete atrophy of the cortex (with preserved medulla). In contrast to primary adrenal insufficiency, secondary types are associated with the lack of cortisol, but not mineralocorticoid deficiency.

Clinical Features of Adrenal Insufficiency

The clinical presentation of adrenal insufficiency is related to the rate of onset and severity of adrenal deficiency. In a large number of cases, the disease has a gradual onset, thus the diagnosis can be made only when the affected individual presents with an acute crisis due to an inadequate rise in cortisol secretion during a physiologic stress. Such acute adrenal insufficiency (also known as the Addisonian crisis) is a medical emergency.

On the other hand, the course of chronic adrenal insufficiency is more subtle and insidious, with the predomination of symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, weight loss, diarrhea or constipation, muscle cramps, pain in joints and postural hypotension (low blood pressure). Salt craving and low-grade fever may also be present.

The classic physical finding that can help in differentiating primary from secondary adrenal failure is hyperpigmentation of the skin or the “suntan that does not fade”. Furthermore, patients with secondary adrenal insufficiency may present with additional symptoms related to pituitary disease (e.g., menstrual disturbances, loss of libido, galactorrhea, or hypothyroidism).

Laboratory Findings and Management

In cases of adrenal insufficiency, the complete blood count usually reveals anemia, neutropenia, eosinophilia, and relative lymphocytosis. Common chemical abnormalities include metabolic acidosis and prerenal azotemia, while hyponatremia, hypoglycemia, and hyperkalemia may also be present.

A cosyntropin stimulation test (also known as ACTH or Synacthen test) is required to establish the diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the hypophysis in secondary adrenal insufficiency and computed tomography (CT) of the adrenal glands in primary adrenal insufficiency can aid in establishing a diagnosis. The adrenal glands appear normal in cases of autoimmune disorder.

Glucocorticoid replacement in patients with adrenal insufficiency can be lifesaving. Nevertheless, renal crisis is still a threat to patients’ lives, which is why awareness and adequate preventative measures receive increasing attention in the recent years.

Reviewed by Susha Cheriyedath, MSc

From http://www.news-medical.net/health/Adrenal-Insufficiency-Primary-and-Secondary.aspx

Hydrocortisone Dosing for Adrenal Insufficiency

In a randomized crossover study, higher doses resulted in modestly higher blood pressure.

No universally accepted glucocorticoid replacement dose exists for patients with adrenal insufficiency. When hydrocortisone is used, divided doses often are given to mimic natural diurnal variation (higher dose early, lower dose later). In this double-blind crossover study, researchers compared the blood pressure effects of higher and lower hydrocortisone doses in 46 Dutch patients with secondary adrenal insufficiency. Each patient received courses of high-dose and low-dose hydrocortisone (10 weeks each, in random order), according to a dosing protocol. For example, a 70-kg patient received 15 mg daily during the low-dose phase (7.5 mg, 5.0 mg, and 2.5 mg before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, respectively), and twice these amounts during the high-dose phase.

Mean blood pressure was significantly higher at the end of the high-dose phase, compared with the low-dose phase (systolic/diastolic difference, 5/2 mm Hg). Plasma renin and aldosterone levels were lower with high-dose than with low-dose hydrocortisone, presumably reflecting hydrocortisone’s mineralocorticoid activity.

COMMENT

Although the higher blood pressure with high-dose hydrocortisone was modest, it conceivably could be consequential over many years of treatment. However, these researchers have published quality-of-life outcomes from this study elsewhere (Neuroendocrinology 2016; 103:771), and those outcomes generally were better with high-dose than with low-dose therapy. This study was too brief to be definitive, but it does highlight potential tradeoffs involved in glucocorticoid dosing for adrenal insufficiency. Whether the findings apply to patients with primary adrenal insufficiency is unclear.

EDITOR DISCLOSURES AT TIME OF PUBLICATION

  • Disclosures for Allan S. Brett, MD at time of publication Nothing to disclose

CITATION(S):

From http://www.jwatch.org/na42734/2016/11/03/hydrocortisone-dosing-adrenal-insufficiency

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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