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

Past News Items: My 37-year-old daughter has Addison’s disease.

old-news

 

Because, sometimes Old News is still valid!

From Tuesday, September 16, 2008

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My 37-year-old daughter has Addison’s disease. Many doctors saw her when she was hospitalized a year ago. She had to go back to the hospital because of stomach upset, back pain and dehydration. Her skin has darkened. She was told she would be fine after she started steroids. This hasn’t happened. She is constantly sick. Do you have any good news? — L.K.

ANSWER: With Addison’s disease, the adrenal glands have stopped producing their many hormones. Those hormones include cortisone and aldosterone. Cortisone gives us energy, combats inflammation and figures into many of the body’s most important functions. Aldosterone is essential for blood pressure maintenance. Without adrenal gland hormones, the skin darkens, especially the elbow skin and the creases in the hands.

Treatment is straightforward: Replace the missing hormones. Maybe the dosage of her hormone medicines needs revision. If she’s hasn’t shortly turned the corner, she should get a second opinion from an endocrinologist, a specialist in this kind of illness.

From http://www.kilgorenewsherald.com/news/2008/0916/advice/009.html

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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/

Cushing’s Syndrome and Primary Adrenal Disorders

endo2016

 

April 03, 2016

Oral Session: Cushing’s Syndrome and Primary Adrenal Disorders

Patients with diabetes mellitus diagnosed with Addison’s disease have a markedly increased additional risk of death

D Chantzichristos, A Persson, B Eliasson, M Miftaraj, S Franzén, R Bergthorsdottir, S Gudbjörnsdottir, A-M Svensson, G Johannsson

Summary: Researchers sought to determine if patients with diabetes (DM) who are diagnosed with Addison’s disease (AD) have an increased risk of mortality (DM+AD). They concluded that patients diagnosed with DM+AD had a nearly 4-fold increased risk of mortality compared to controls.

Methods:

  • Researchers identified patients who were first diagnosed with DM (type 1 or 2) and then AD using both the Swedish National Diabetes Register (NDR) and the National Inpatient Register between January 1st, 1996 and December 31th, 2012.
  • Each patients was matched with 5 controls based on sex, year of birth, type of DM, year when DM was diagnosed, and period of time in NDR were selected in NDR.
  • Researchers obtained causes of death data for both groups during the same time period from the Swedish Register for Cause-Specific Mortality.

Results:

  • A total of 1,355 patients were identified: 226 patients had DM (type 1 or 2) and AD and 1,129 matched DM controls.
  • At baseline, patients with DM+AD and patients with DM had a mean (±SD) age of 52.3 (±20.1) and 54.1 (±18.9) years, respectively.
  • In both groups, 47% were women and 65% had type 1 DM.
  • Mean (±SD) HbA1c at baseline was 7.8% (±3.5%) or 62.0 (±14.7) mmol/mol for the DM+AD group and 7.6% (±3.5%) or 59.6 (±14.7) mmol/mol for the DM controls.
  •  More than one-quarter of patients with DM+AD (64/226, 28%) died vs 112 of 1,129 controls (10%).
  • The estimated relative risk increase (hazard ratio) in overall mortality in the DM+AD group was 3.83 (95% confidence interval, 2.80 to 5.24) compared with the DM controls.
  • There was no significant association between type of DM and gender on relative mortality risk.
  • The most common cause of death in both groups was cardiovascular diseases (33% and 34%, respectively).
  • The second most common cause of death in DM+AD patients was DM and its related complications (23%) and cancer in the DM group (29%).
  • Fourteen percent of DM+AD patients died from cancer.

From http://www.mdlinx.com/endocrinology/conference-abstract.cfm/ZZ6AA1CEC190F5428EA690616DAA054518/56981/?utm_source=confcoveragenl&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_content=abstract-list&utm_campaign=abstract-ENDO2016&nonus=0

Action For Adrenal Disease

Watch online Saturday April 16 at 1:00 PM eastern at https://plus.google.com/events/cpjbd8celcbfgngp8und662s198?hl=en
Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency and Addison’s Disease can be deadly, mostly because of the lack of education and awareness. We have lost too many and need to be proactive in preventing unnecessary deaths! Join us as we educate on what these diseases are, how easily they can become deadly and preventive measures we can all take to help this community. Brought to you by the National Adrenal Disease Foundation, with speakers who have personal experience with these diseases.

Our program will include:

Senior Administrator Nichole Klute Rushton••• of the Addison’s Disease Support Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/addisons.support/) on Facebook, will speak in detail about the unfortunate adrenal insufficient patients who have tragically passed, reminding us that the danger of loss of life is a reality for every person with adrenal insufficiency who doesn’t receive the vital hormones they need

Administrator Debby Hunter ••• of the Living With Addison’s Disease Support on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/LivingWithAddisonsDisease/) who will give us tips on how we can approach our local emergency facilities and hospitals with information about adrenal insufficiency and its care in a crisis situation. She will also share her own personal experience with going through an adrenal crisis.

Deputy Sheriff Chris Spires••• who will speak on life as the husband of an Addison’s disease patient, and share with us how the law enforcement community views adrenal insufficient patients

Melanie Wong ••• National Adrenal Disease Foundation (http://www.NADF.us) Executive Director, who will speak about the recent tragic losses, and the vital importance of reminding the medical community about adrenal insufficiency, as well as NADF’s latest project to get NADF Adrenal Crisis Care posters displayed in every emergency room facility in the United States.

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