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.

Primary Adrenal Insufficiency (PAI)

 Al-Jurayyan NA
Background: Primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI) in children is an uncommon, but potentially fatal. The current symptoms include weakness, fatigue, anorexia, abdominal pain, weight loss, orthostatic hypotension, salt craving and characterized by hyperpigmentation.
Material and Methods: This is a retrospective, hospital based-study, conducted at King Khalid University Hospital (KKUH), during the period January 1989 and December 2014. Review of medical record of patient diagnosed with primary adrenal insufficiency. The diagnosis was based on medical history, physical examination and low levels of glucocorticoids and raised adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Appropriate laboratory and radiological investigations were also reviewed.
Results: During the period under review, January 1989 and December 2014, a total of 125 patients with the diagnosis of primary adrenal insufficiency were seen. Inherited disorders like congenital adrenal hyperplasia and hypoplasia were common, 85.5%. However, variable autoimmune mediated etiologic diagnosis accounted for, 13%, were also seen. The appropriate various laboratory and radiological investigations should be planned.
Conclusion: Although, congenital adrenal hyperplasia was the commonest etiology, however, congenital adrenal hypoplasia should not be over looked. The diagnosis of PAI can be challenging in some patients, and therefore appropriate serological and radiological investigations should be done.

Topical Steroid Use in Psoriasis Patient Leads to Severe Adrenal Insufficiency

This article is written live from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 2017 Annual Meeting in Austin, TX. MPR will be reporting news on the latest findings from leading experts in endocrinology. Check back for more news from AACE 2017.

 

At the AACE 2017 Annual Meeting, lead study author Kaitlyn Steffensmeier, MS III, of the Dayton Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Dayton, OH, presented a case study describing a patient “who developed secondary adrenal insufficiency secondary to long-term topical steroid use and who with decreased topical steroid use recovered.”

The patient was a 63-year-old white male with a 23-year history of psoriasis. For 18 years, the patient had been applying Clobetasol Propionate 0.05% topically on several areas of his body every day. Upon presentation to the endocrine clinic for evaluation of his low serum cortisol, the patient complained of a 24-pound weight gain over a 2-year period, feeling fatigued, as well as facial puffiness.

Laboratory analysis found that the patient’s random serum cortisol and ACTH levels were low (0.2µg/dL and <1.1pg/mL, respectively). According to the study authors, “the labs were indicative of secondary adrenal insufficiency.” Additionally, a pituitary MRI “showed a 2mm hypoenhancing lesion within the midline of the pituitary gland consistent with Rathke’s cleft cyst versus pituitary microadenoma.”

The patient was initiated on 10mg of hydrocortisone in the morning and 5mg in the evening and was instructed to decrease the use of his topical steroid to one time per month. For the treatment of his psoriasis, the patient was started on apremilast, a phosphodiesterase-4 enzyme (PDE4) inhibitor, and phototherapy.

After 2.5 years, the patient had a subnormal response to the cosyntropin stimulation test. However, after 3 years, a normal response with an increase in serum cortisol to 18.7µg/dL at 60 minutes was obtained; the patient was then discontinued on hydrocortisone. Additionally, a stable pituitary tumor was shown via a repeat pituitary MRI.

The study authors explained that, although secondary adrenal insufficiency is not commonly reported, “one study showed 40% of patients with abnormal cortisol response to exogenous ACTH after two weeks of topical glucocorticoids usage.” Another meta-analysis of 15 studies (n=320) revealed 4.7% of patients developing adrenal insufficiency after using topical steroids. Because of this, “clinicians need to be aware of potential side effects of prolong topical steroid use,” added the study authors.

For continuous endocrine news coverage from the AACE 2017 Annual Meeting, check back to MPR’s AACE page for the latest updates.

From http://www.empr.com/aace-2017/topical-steroid-psoriasis-clobestasol-propionate/article/654335/

Reasons You Have Flab Around Your Abdomen

Some diseases and conditions could be responsible for your abdominal fat.
Mita Majumdar | Updated: April 24, 2017 6:15 pm

Visceral fat or unhealthy belly fat that surrounds the liver and other organs in the abdomen puts you at risk for serious health problems, such as, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. But, what causes your pot belly or beer fat in the first place? The most obvious answers you will get is – ‘You are not exercising enough’, or, ‘you are eating too much of fatty foods or sugary foods’, or ‘you are not eating the right foods’, or ultimately, ‘It’s genetics! You got it from your parents’. All of these reasons are true, of course. However, some diseases/ disorders and conditions, too, could be responsible for your abdominal fat and these have nothing to do with not exercising or not eating right. Following are some of these disorders.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome, also called hypercortisolism, is an endocrine disorder that occurs when your body is exposed to high cortisol levels over a long period of time. It is a treatable disorder, however, if it is chronic, the symptoms can last lifelong.

Symptoms: Symptoms vary according to the severity of the disorder. The characteristic symptoms include –

  • Fatty tissue deposits in the midsection
  • Fatty deposits in the upper back, especially between the shoulders, so that it resembles a hump
  • Puffy face
  • Violaceous stretch marks (pink or purple) on the arms, breast, stomach, and thighs that are more than 1 cm wide. [1]
  • Easy bruising
  • Fatigue
  • Hirsutism and irregularity in menstruation in women
  • Loss of libido and erectile dysfunction in men
  • Cognitive dysfunction, depression, unpredictable emotional outbursts, irritability is present in 70-85 percent of people with Cushing’s syndrome.[1]

Causes:

  • Overuse of corticosteroids
  • Overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal glands

Management:

  • Surgery is the first line of treatment for Cushing’s syndrome.
  • Medication include: [2]

a.Pituitary gland directed therapy

b.Adrenal-blocking drugs

c.Glucocorticoid receptor-antagonizing drugs

  • Pituitary radiotherapy

Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, is a disorder where your adrenal glands produce insufficient hormones, especially, glucocorticoids including cortisol and aldosterone. It is a life-threatening disease that can affect anyone irrespective of their gender or age.

How do glucocorticoids influence abdominal fats? Glucocorticoids including cortisol convert the fats into energy in the liver. They also help your body respond to stress. When sufficient amount of glucocorticoids are not produced by the adrenal glands, the fats accumulate in the abdominal area, and you see it as flab around your middle.

Symptoms:

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low blood sugar and low blood pressure
  • Salt craving as one of the functions of adrenal glands is to maintain the sodium-potassium balance in the body
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
  • Weight loss but gain in abdominal fat

Causes:

  • Insufficient production of adrenal cortex hormones
  • Stopping of prescribed corticosteroids
  • Tuberculosis and other infections of adrenal glands
  • Spread of cancer to the adrenal glands

Management:

  • Oral corticosteroids or corticosteroid injections
  • Intravenous injections of hydrocortisone, saline solution, and dextrose in case of Addisonian crisis

Stress

Chronic stress is a very big cause of belly fat. When you are exposed to stress, a chain reaction starts in the body because of the dysregulation of HPA axis of the neuroendocrine system. HPA axis is a complex interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands. The hypothalamus produces a corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and vasopressin. These together stimulate the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is transported by the blood to the adrenal glands, which then produces corticosteroids, mainly, cortisol from cholesterol. One of the functions of cortisol is to signal the body to store fat, and specifically, the fat storage occurs in the abdominal area, where the cortisol receptors are greater. Researchers have found that stress causes hyperactivation of HPA axis, leading to accumulation of fat tissue, especially in the abdomen region.

So, the more and longer you are stressed (or if you are chronically stressed), chances are that you will be carrying more belly fat!

Ascites

Ascites is the buildup of fluid in the abdominal space. Ascites usually occurs in people with cancer, and it is then called malignant ascites. Onset of ascites is generally the terminal phase in cancer. Ascites also occurs in patients with liver cirrhosis, kidney failure, or heart disease.

Symptoms:

The first sign of ascites is an increase in abdominal girth accompanied by weight gain. [4] Although it looks like it is belly fat, it is actually the fluid that causes the bulging.

Other symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling in the feet and ankle
  • Decreased appetite, sense of fullness, bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Haemorrhoids

Management:

If the ascites is not causing any discomfort, it may not require any treatment. Treatment of ascites can have many side effects. Talk to your doctor before you go in for management/ treatment.

Abdominal hernia

Abdominal hernia is a swelling or a bulge in the abdominal area where an organ or fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall. The abdominal wall is made up of tough connective tissue and tendons that stretch from the ribs to the groin. Depending on the position of the weakness in your abdominal wall, the hernia can be inguinal (groin), femoral (upper thigh), umbilical (belly button), hiatal (upper stomach), or even incisional. Incisional hernia can occur when the intestine pushes through a weak spot at the site of abdominal surgery.

Symptoms:

  • Visible bulge that may or may not cause discomfort
  • Feeling of heaviness in the abdomen
  • Sharp pain when you strain or lift objects

Causes:

  • Constipation and diarrhoea
  • Persistent coughing and sneezing
  • Straining or suddenly lifting a heavy object

Management:

  • Umbilical hernia, common in young children, mostly resolves by itself as the abdominal muscles get stronger.
  • Other abdominal hernia normally do not resolve by themselves. Doctors suggest waiting and watching.
  • If treatment is required, surgery is the only option. Surgery involves pushing the hernia back into the abdomen and repairing the abdominal wall.

Menopause

Menopause is certainly not a disease or a disorder. It is the time in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating and cannot become pregnant because her ovaries stop producing the required amounts of hormones oestrogen and progesterone. A woman reaches menopause when she has not had her periods for 12 months.

Symptoms:

  • Hot flashes and/ or night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances

It is very common to gain belly fat during menopause. This is because of the low oestrogen levels. Oestrogen seems to influence the distribution of fat in the body, in a way that the fat is redistributed from the hips, buttocks, and thighs to the belly. However, a study published in the journal Metabolism reported that though women did significantly gain belly fat, especially deep inside the belly, relative fat distribution is not significantly different after menopause. [5] But the fact remains that women do gain flab in the abdomen after menopause.

Belly fat can be seriously harmful. If your belly fat is not because of the above-mentioned conditions, you can lose it by adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes sleeping enough, exercising regularly, eating right, and reducing stress.

Reference

  1. Sharma ST, Nieman LK, Feelders RA. Cushing’s syndrome: epidemiology and developments in disease management. Clinical Epidemiology. 2015;7:281-293. doi:10.2147/CLEP.S44336.
  1. Feelders RA, Hofland LJ. Medical treatment of Cushing’s disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98:425–438.
  1. Kyrou I, Chrousos GP, Tsigos C. Stress, visceral obesity, and metabolic complications. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Nov;1083:77-110.
  1. Sinicrope FA. Ascites. In: Kufe DW, Pollock RE, Weichselbaum RR, et al., editors. Holland-Frei Cancer Medicine. 6th edition. Hamilton (ON): BC Decker; 2003.
  2. Franklin RM, Ploutz-Snyder L, Kanaley JA. Longitudinal changes in abdominal fat distribution with menopause. Metabolism. 2009 Mar;58(3):311-5. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.09.030.

Adapted from http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/reasons-you-have-flab-around-your-abdomen-f0417/

 

Health Care Expenditure Burden High in Adrenal Insufficiency

Patients with adrenal insufficiency may accrue substantial health care costs and have more hospital stays and outpatient visits compared with healthy controls, according to findings published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

Candace Gunnarsson, PhD, vice president of health economics and outcomes research at CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting in Cincinnati, and colleagues evaluated data from a U.S.-based payer database on 10,383 patients with adrenal insufficiency to determine the estimated annual health care burden among them.

Participants were divided into groups based on their type of adrenal insufficiency: primary adrenal insufficiency (n = 1,014), adrenal insufficiency secondary to pituitary disease (n = 8,818) or congenital adrenal hyperplasia (n = 551). A group of matched controls was also evaluated for comparison.

Total annual health care expenditures were significantly higher in the primary adrenal insufficiency group ($18,624 vs. $4,320), adrenal insufficiency secondary to pituitary disease group ($32,218 vs. $6,956) and the congenital adrenal hyperplasia group ($7,677 vs. $4,203) compared with controls. The adrenal insufficiency secondary to pituitary disease group had the highest health care expenditure estimated with an incremental health care burden of $25,262, followed by the primary adrenal insufficiency group ($14,304) and the congenital adrenal hyperplasia group ($3,474).

Compared with controls, participants with adrenal insufficiency spent eight to 10 times more days in the hospital and had up to twice as many outpatient visits per year.

“When comparing [adrenal insufficiency] patients within each cohort based on their drug regimen, patients receiving prednisone therapy vs. hydrocortisone therapy had significantly higher total annual expenditures in the [primary adrenal insufficiency] and [congenital adrenal hyperplasia] and significantly lower total expenditures in the [pituitary disease] cohort,” the researchers wrote. “Patients taking only hydrocortisone and meeting the threshold of 50% adherence were found to have lower expenditures when medication adherence was 75% or higher.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosure: Gunnarsson reports being an employee of CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

From http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/adrenal/news/in-the-journals/%7B8f92bd0c-0c72-4902-beb5-663c356a61cb%7D/health-care-expenditure-burden-high-in-adrenal-insufficiency

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