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/

Addison’s disease: Primary adrenal insufficiency

Abstract

Adrenal insufficiency, a rare disorder which is characterized by the inadequate production or absence of adrenal hormones, may be classified as primary adrenal insufficiency in case of direct affection of the adrenal glands or secondary adrenal insufficiency, which is mostly due to pituitary or hypothalamic disease.

Primary adrenal insufficiency affects 11 of 100,000 individuals. Clinical symptoms are mainly nonspecific and include fatigue, weight loss, and hypotension. The diagnostic test of choice is dynamic testing with synthetic ACTH.

Patients suffering from chronic adrenal insufficiency require lifelong hormone supplementation. Education in dose adaption during physical and mental stress or emergency situations is essential to prevent life-threatening adrenal crises.

Patients with adrenal insufficiency should carry an emergency card and emergency kit with them.

From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27129928

‘Adrenal Fatigue’ Not Always Used Accurately

Dear Dr. Roach: I had apoplexy, a ruptured pituitary tumor, developed panhypopituitarism, then adrenal insufficiency. I am doing fairly well with cortisol replacement, thyroid supplement and oral diabetic medicine.

My problem is exhaustion that comes on very easily. I have other ailments to blame, too — chronic pain from fibromyalgia and tendinitis. I am 67. I am still able to work. Is adrenal fatigue a real issue, and if so, what can be done about it? — S.M.

Answer: The term “adrenal fatigue” is increasingly used, and not always correctly — or, at least, it is used in cases where it’s not clear if that is actually the case. But let me start by discussing what has happened to you. Pituitary apoplexy is bleeding into the pituitary gland, usually into a pituitary tumor, as in your case. This may cause severe headaches and vision changes, and often it prevents the pituitary from making the many important hormones that control the endocrine glands and regulate the body.

For example, without TSH from the pituitary gland, the thyroid won’t release thyroid hormone, and importantly, the adrenal gland can’t make cortisol without the influence of ACTH from the pituitary.

Rather than trying to replace TSH, ACTH and the other pituitary hormones, it is easier to directly replace the hormones made by the adrenal, thyroid and gonads. That’s why you are taking cortisol and thyroid hormone, and why younger women take estrogen and men testosterone. Although there is nothing wrong with your thyroid and adrenal glands, they simply won’t work unless stimulated.

Inadequate adrenal function from any cause leads to profound fatigue, and in the presence of severe stress, such as surgery or major infection, the body’s need for cortisol increases dramatically. Unless enough adrenal hormone is given in response, the result can be an immediate life-threatening condition called an Addisonian crisis.

Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.

From http://www.vnews.com/To-Your-Good-Health–Adrenal-Fatigue–not-Always-Used-Accurately-1802516

Day 13, Cushing’s Awareness Challenge 2016

UVA 2004
Cushing’s Conventions have always been special times for me – we learn a lot, get to meet other Cushies, even get referrals to endos!

As early as 2001 (or before) my pituitary function was dropping.  My former endo tested annually but did nothing to help me with the symptoms.

In the fall of 2002 my endo refused to discuss my fatigue or anything at all with me until I lost 10 pounds. He said I wasn’t worth treating in my overweight condition and that I was setting myself up for a heart attack. He gave me 3 months to lose this weight. Those 3 months included Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  Needless to say, I left his office in tears, again.

Fast forward 2 years to 2004.  I had tried for a while to get my records from this endo. He wouldn’t send them, even at doctors’ or my requests.

I wanted to go see Dr. Vance at UVa but I had no records so she wouldn’t see me until I could get them.

Finally, my husband went to the former endo’s office and threatened him with a court order. The office manager managed to come up with about 13 pages of records. For going to him from 1986 to 2001 including weeks and weeks at NIH and pituitary surgery, that didn’t seem like enough records to me.

In April of 2004, many of us from the message boards went to the UVa Pituitary Days Convention. That’s where the picture above comes in.  Other pictures from that convention are here.

By chance, we met a wonderful woman named Barbara Craven. She sat at our table for lunch on the last day and, after we learned that she was a dietitian who had had Cushing’s, one of us jokingly asked her if she’d do a guest chat for us. I didn’t follow through on this until she emailed me later. In the email, she asked how I was doing. Usually I say “fine” or “ok” but for some reason, I told her exactly how awful I was feeling.

Barbara emailed me back and said I should see a doctor at Johns Hopkins. I said I didn’t think I could get a recommendation to there, so SHE referred me. The doctor got right back to me, set up an appointment. Between his vacation and mine, that first appointment turned out to be Tuesday, Sept 14, 2004.

Just getting through the maze at Johns Hopkins was amazing. They have the whole system down to a science, moving from one place to another to sign in, then go here, then window 6, then… But it was very efficient.

My new doctor was wonderful. Understanding, knowledgeable. He never once said that I was “too fat” or “depressed” or that all this was my own fault. I feel so validated, finally.

He looked through my records, especially at my 2 previous Insulin Tolerance Tests (ITT). From those, he determined that my growth hormone has been low since at least August 2001 and I’ve been adrenal insufficient since at least Fall, 1999 – possibly as much as 17 years! I was amazed to hear all this, and astounded that my former endo not only didn’t tell me any of this, he did nothing. He had known both of these things – they were in the past records that I took with me. Perhaps that was why he had been so reluctant to share copies of those records. He had given me Cortef in the fall of 1999 to take just in case I had “stress” and that was it.

The new endo took a lot of blood (no urine!) for cortisol and thyroid stuff. I went back on Sept. 28, 2004 for arginine, cortrosyn and IGF testing.

He said that I would end up on daily cortisone – a “sprinkling” – and some form of GH, based on the testing the 28th.

For those who are interested, my new endo is Roberto Salvatori, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins

Medical School: Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy
Residency: Montefiore Medical Center
Fellowship: Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University
Board Certification: Endocrinology and Metabolism, Internal Medicine

Clinical Interests: Neuroendocrinology, pituitary disorders, adrenal disorders

Research Interests: Control of growth hormone secretion, genetic causes of growth hormone deficiency, consequences of growth hormone deficiency.

Although I have this wonderful doctor, a specialist in growth hormone deficiency at Johns Hopkins, in November, 2004, my insurance company saw fit to over-ride his opinions and his test results based on my past pharmaceutical history! Hello??? How could I have a history of taking GH when I’ve never taken it before?

Of course, I found out late on a Friday afternoon. By then it was too late to call my case worker at the drug company, so we had to appeal on Monday. My local insurance person also worked on an appeal, but the whole thing was  just another long ordeal of finding paperwork, calling people, FedExing stuff, too much work when I just wanted to start feeling better by Thanksgiving.

As it turned out the insurance company rejected the brand of hGH that was prescribed for me. They gave me the ok for a growth hormone was just FDA-approved for adults on 11/4/04. The day this medication was approved for adults was the day after my insurance said that’s what is preferred for me. In the past, this form of hGH was only approved for children with height issues. Was I going to be a ginuea pig again?

The new GH company assigned a rep for me, submitted info to pharmacy, and waited for insurance approval, again.

I finally started the Growth Hormone December 7, 2004.

Was the hassle and 3 year wait worth it?

Stay tuned for April 15, 2016 when all will be revealed.

Read

Read Dr. Barbara Craven’s Guest Chat, October 27, 2004

Thanks for reading 🙂

MaryO

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