Yes, You Need a Medical Alert Bracelet!

Shared with permission from https://aiunited.org/medicalbracelets/

Advice from a Volunteer Firefighter with Adrenal Insufficiency

My name is Jeannie, and I have been diagnosed with Secondary AI since March of 2015. To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma in Feb of 2015. It was apron 8mm x 10mm at the time wit was found. On April 25th, 2015 I was getting ready for work in the early morning hours.. I passed out in my bathroom and was immediately rushed to the hospital by my husband. They did a secondary MRI and found that the tumor had tripled in size to 23mm x almost 41mm. My Cortisol was also so low it was undetectable by the lab. I was taken by ambulance to Emory University hospital in Atlanta where the Neurosurgeon I had been in consult with was. I arrived there on Sunday and was in Surgery Wednesday Morning. The surgery took 9 hours and recovery was close to 6.

Prior to this all taking place I was a volunteer firefighter, and had worked EMS for almost 16 years. I have been in nearly every situation possible. I see so many people that have our condition asking about Medic Alert bracelets, What kind they should have, what it should say on it, etc. So I have put together a short list to help out a little bit. This is coming from both someone who has this extremely rare disease, and also from the Emergency Medical Side of me. Knowing what We as medics look for in the field, How quickly things move, what we ask or need to know, etc.

Please know that this IS NOT Professional Medical advice, But this is advice coming from someone who can shed some light on how to potentially save your life if you should ever be alone, or without anyone who knows your condition and you fall unconscious or are unable to the the responders what your condition is.

First off if you are looking for a medic alert bracelet or wondering if you should get one.

**The answer is yes, If you have been diagnosed ANY TYPE of adrenal insufficient or are on replacement medication.. YES. you need one.**

Here are some of those reasons and some pointers on what they should look like / what they should say.

#1– If you are found unconscious, and there are not bystanders around to tell emergency crews what is wrong with you, You will go longer without your steroids. If we see on your bracelet that you are steroid dependent, it dissolves the ENTIRE guessing game of why you’re unconscious.

#2– It should have on there your emergency contact and a GOOD telephone number. That way if nothing else. We can call them. NOT EVERY EMS AGENCY HAS ACCESS TO THE “CLOUD” BASED SYSTEMS THAT STORE YOUR INFO. Please be sure that if your emergency contacts number changes.. You change it on your bracelet. There is nothing worse than wasted time calling a number that doesn’t belong to the person we NEED to talk to.

#3– DO NOT MAKE IT “PRETTY” OR “NOT SO OBVIOUS”. I can not stress this enough. Ladies I know that you want the cute ones that look like normal bracelets, and have pretty charms, etc on them… THE ENTIRE point of a medical alert bracelet is that someone needs to see it and know that they should look at it. If it looks like a regular bracelet or regular necklace and it isn’t obvious within the first 3 seconds once we get to you and look in the obvious places (neck/wrist). it will NOT get seen. I promise you, we are too busy trying to play the guessing game of why you are not responding, than to take a look at every single piece of regular jewelry and see if it might have a really small inscribing of what is wrong with you. Once again. Make it noticeable. We will see that we need to look at it. Once we do. The guessing game is more than likely OVER. and we can begin to treat you appropriately.

#4– Most EMT’s and Paramedics Don’t Understand or know about Addisons or the treatment involved. If nothing else, carry a letter from your doctor explaining what is wrong with you, etc. It is very rare, and NOT covered in most Paramedic courses. So please, for those of you that put “ADRENAL INSUFFICIENT” on your bracelet and NOT “STEROID DEPENDENT” please keep in mind that you may end up with the Paramedic that just graduated, is nervous, and will mistake adrenal insufficiency for Adrenaline insufficiency.. and try to give you epinephrine. Please understand that I have seen this almost happen. It is something that is easily misunderstood in the heat of the moment.

#5– If you have an emergency injection that you carry with you all the time, on your person, or somewhere close. PUT ON THERE THAT YOU HAVE IT! MOST ems agencies have standing protocol that they can assist with emergency medications (Don’t jump in here if you are one of those states that doesn’t allow it.. I said most) That way if we find you down, and look at your bracelet, AND see that you have emergency meds with you… guess what now, not only is the guessing game over, You’re ALSO getting the RIGHT EMERGENCY MEDS, instead of us having to either give you what we carry, or you having to wait until you get to the ER and the ER doc has to go through your file and figure out that you need the medication that’s been in your pocketbook the ENTIRE TIME.If you are unsure if your state allows this, or if you Local EMS agency can do this. Contact their local medical control and ask. If they do, Please offer to give a small talk on what the disease is and how to use the emergency kit. Most will know once they see the acto-vial, but if they do not, Please educate them. Explain to them that it can be the only thing that could save your life.

Please take the time and make sure that you have correct information on your bracelet. Secondary or Primary, the treatment in an Emergency situation is the same. So there is NO need for you to spell out if you are secondary or primary. Both get the emergency injection in case of a crisis. Both get fluid bolus, heart and blood pressure monitoring. Nothing is different when it comes to an emergency situation. If you have any questions on the wording or what to get on it. Be sure you at least have an emergency contact, That you are steroid dependent, and where your emergency injection is located.

IF you know that your local EMS agency uses the “cloud” for stored emergency info, you can spend the money to get it. But I worked for service that covered a county with over 100 sq miles, and we didn’t use it. It is unreliable and takes too much time to log in to the system, try to read the small number on your band, type it in, etc. When you can simply put the information on the band itself.

If you have any other further questions, You can refer to AIU’s emergency page.

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

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