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.

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 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

Adrenal Insufficiency Patients Require More Education on Adrenal Crisis

adrenalcrisispathway

Greater efforts to educate patients with adrenal insufficiency and their families about prevention of adrenal crisis may be necessary, according to data presented at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 24th Annual Scientific & Clinical Congress.

Additionally, the researchers, who looked at patients treated for adrenal insufficiency, found that many are not being adequately trained or equipped to deal with an adrenal crisis.

“These patients can crash and we are not doing enough to help prevent problems,” study investigator Nitika Malhotra, MD, endocrinologist in Lansing, Michigan, said. “We did this study because we think this is a big problem.”

Malhotra, who presented the study findings at the meeting, explained that patients with adrenal insufficiency are at risk for developing adrenal crisis, and it is now estimated that 8% of patients with adrenal insufficiency are hospitalized for adrenal crisis each year.

The problem, according to Malhotra, is that far too many patients are failing to receive crises prevention education. Moreover, they are not receiving emergency glucocorticoid kits.

“All of the families need to be taught and that is not happening,” Malhotra said in an interview with Endocrinology Advisor. “It will reduce the morbidity and mortality and the hospitalization, and it may improve the quality of life of patients too.”

For their study, Malhotra and her colleagues collected data from patients with adrenal insufficiency who were seen at a single institution between March 2009 and March 2014.

The investigators conducted a retrospective chart review and examined age, gender, causes of adrenal insufficiency, glucocorticoid dose, and monitoring for hyponatremia and hyperkalemia. They also looked at postural blood pressure, crises prevention education for glucocorticoid dose adjustments during stress, and whether patients had a Medic Alert ID or a parenteral glucocorticoid kit.

The researchers identified 85 patients (29 males and 56 females) with adrenal insufficiency. Of these patients, 33 patients had primary adrenal insufficiency (38.8%) and 52 had secondary adrenal insufficiency (61.2%). The mean age of the patients was 55.8 years.

Among the 85 patients, 23 (27%) had postural blood pressures checked — five of whom were positive (21.7%). Seventy-seven patients (90.6%) were monitored for electrolytes, and 41 patients (48.2%) were on steroid doses above 20 mg per day.

However, the researchers found that only 57 patients (67.1%) had received steroid dose adjustment instructions. In addition, only 29 patients (34.1%) had a Medic Alert ID, and only 17 patients (20%) were setup with emergency parenteral glucocorticoid kits.

Even though this study has many inherent limitations, Malhotra said, it appears that the preventive strategies for adrenal crisis in patients with adrenal insufficiency are not being consistently followed.

Patient education is paramount for achieving a successful prevention strategy for adrenal crisis, and endocrinologists have a responsibility to make sure that all patients with adrenal insufficiency have a Medic Alert ID and access to emergency glucocorticoid kits, according to Malhotra.

Furthermore, she said families should receive adequate education about parenteral steroid administration and steroid dose adjustments in stressful situations.

At her institution, Malhotra said, endocrinologists are introducing an automated electronic alert in their electronic medical records to determine if this electronic prompt will improve adherence.

Reference

  1. Malhotra N et al. Abstract #102. Presented at: American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 24th Annual Scientific & Clinical Congress; May 13-17, 2015; Nashville, Tenn.

 

From http://www.endocrinologyadvisor.com/aace-2015/adrenal-crisis-in-adrenal-insufficiency/article/415123/

BLA Instead of Second Pituitary Surgery

One of the problems that can arise with a BLA (bilateral adrenalectomy) instead of a repeat pituitary surgery for Cushing’s recurrence is Adrenal Insufficiency.  Another is Nelson’s Syndrome.

Nelson’s syndrome is a rare disorder that occurs in some patients with Cushing’s disease patients as a result of removing both adrenal glands. In Nelson’s syndrome, the pituitary tumor continues to grow and release the hormone ACTH.

This invasive tumor enlarges, often causing visual loss, pituitary failure and headaches. One key characteristic of Nelson’s disease is dark skin pigmentation, resulting from the skin pigment cells responding to the release of ACTH.


AnchorNelson’s Syndrome: Physiology

Nelson’s syndrome can develop as a result of a specific treatment (bilateral adrenalecomy) for the pituitary disease called Cushing’s disease. The harmful effects of Cushing’s disease are due to the excessive amount of the hormone cortisol produced by the adrenal glands.

To treat Cushing’s disease, your doctor may recommend removing the adrenal glands, during a procedure called a bilateral adrenalectomy. The procedure will stop cortisol production and provide relief. However, the procedure does not treat the actual tumor. Rapid growth of the pituitary tumor can occur.

In about 15-25 percent of patients who had a bilateral adrenalectomy, Nelson’ syndrome develops within one to four years.


Darkening of Skin Color - Nelson's Syndrome SymptomAnchor

Nelson’s Syndrome: Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of Nelson’s syndrome is the darkening of the skin color (hyperpigmentation).

Macroadenomas

Macroadenomas are large pituitary tumors. Large tumors can compress surrounding structures, primarily the normal pituitary gland and optic (visual) pathways, causing symptoms. The symptoms that result from the compression are independent of the effects of excess growth hormone secretion.
This may result in vision problems:

  • Vision loss. This occurs when macroadenomas grow upward into the brain cavity, compressing the optic chiasm.
  • A loss of the outer peripheral vision, called a bitemporal hemianopsia Bitemporal Hemianopsia - Symptom of Nelson's Syndrome
    • When severe, a patient can only see what is directly in front of them.
    • Many patients do not become aware of their visual loss until it is quite severe.
  • Other visual problems can include:
    • Loss of visual acuity (blurry vision), especially if the macroadenoma grows forward and compresses an optic nerve.
    • Colors not perceived as bright as usual

Pituitary Failure or Hypopituitarism

Increased compression of the normal gland can cause hormone insufficiency, called hypopituitarism. The symptoms depend upon which hormone is involved.


AnchorNelson’s Syndrome: Diagnosis

Most patients with Nelson’s syndrome have undergone a bilateral adrenalectomy for the treatment of Cushing’s disease

Diagnostic testing includes:

  • Hormone testing. Typically, the blood ACTH levels are very elevated. Learn more about hormone testing at the UCLA Pituitary Tumor Program.
  • MRI imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the pituitary gland can detect the presence of an adenoma, a pituitary tumor.

AnchorNelson’s Syndrome: Treatment Options

Surgery for Nelson's Syndrome

Treating Nelson’s syndrome effectively requires an experienced team of experts. Specialists at the UCLA’s Pituitary Tumor Program have years of experience managing the complex coordination and care for treatment of Nelsons’ syndrome.

Treatment options include:

AnchorSurgery for Nelson’s Syndrome

Surgical removal of the pituitary adenoma is the ideal treatment; however, it is not always possible. Surgical removal requires advanced surgical approaches, including delicate procedures involving the cavernous sinus.

If surgery is required, typically the best procedure is through a nasal approach. Our neurosurgeons who specialize in pituitary tumor surgery are experts in the minimally invasive expanded endoscopic endonasal technique. This procedure removes the tumor while minimizing complications, hospital time and discomfort. This advanced technique requires specialized training and equipment.

Very large tumors that extend into the brain cavity may require opening the skull (craniotomy) to access the tumor. Our surgeons are also experts in the minimally invasive “key-hole” craniotomy, utilizing a small incision hidden in the eyebrow.

AnchorRadiation Therapy for Nelson’s Syndrome

Radiation Therapy for Nelson's SyndromeRadiation therapy can be effective in controlling the growth of the tumor. However, if you received radiation therapy in the past, additional radiation may not be safe.

Our Pituitary Tumor Program offers the latest in radiation therapy, including stereotactic radiosurgery. This approach delivers a highly focused dose of radiation to the tumor while leaving the surrounding brain structures unharmed (with the exception of the normal pituitary gland).

One consequence of radiation treatment is that it can cause delayed pituitary failure. This typically occurs several years after treatment, and continued long-term follow-up with an endocrinologist is important. You may require hormone replacement therapy.

Medical Therapy for Nelson’s Syndrome

Medication for Nelson's SyndromeMedical therapies for the treatment of Nelson’s syndrome are currently limited, but include:

  • Somatostatin-analogs (SSAs). These medications are typically used to treat acromegaly. A small number of Nelson’s syndrome patients may respond.
  • Cabergoline. This medication is typically used to treat prolactinomas; you may require a very high dose.
  • Temozolomide. This is a type of chemotherapy used to treat primary brain tumors called glioblastoma.

If you require medication to treat Nelson’s syndrome, our endocrinologists will monitor you closely.

From http://pituitary.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=53

 

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