A 12-year-old boy died from Addison’s disease after the chance of lifesaving treatment was ‘missed’

The death of a 12-year-old boy who was suffering from undiagnosed Addison’s disease was preventable, an inquest heard.

Ryan Lee Morse had been unwell from July 2012, with his parents noticing his skin darkening and him becoming lethargic and losing weight.

His condition worsened over the following months and he died during the early hours of December 8, 2012.

During the time he was unwell, Ryan’s mother, Carol Ann Morse, took him to Abernant Surgery in Abertillery several times.

She said: “Ryan was rarely ill as a child. In June 2012, which was towards the end of Ryan’s first comprehensive school year, I noticed his skin colour changing.

“His skin seemed to be getting darker.”

She said his joint areas, including elbows and knees, were getting darker. Under his eyes, it looked as if he had not slept for a month. I don’t suppose it worried me at the time because it was gradual.”

A post mortem was held on December 12 by Dr E. J. Lazda, a consultant pathologist at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff who concluded that Ryan died as a result of Addison’s disease.

An inquest into Ryan’s death was held at Newport Coroner’s Court on Thursday.

Dr Yvette Cloette, a consultant paediatrician since 2004, was called during the early hours of December 8, 2012, by a registrar where she was told the details of Ryan’s death.

She said: “Ryan’s parents told me he had been unwell since July.

“It was thought Ryan had been particularly unwell since the Thursday before he passed away. He had to be collected from school that day. On (the) Friday morning, she said he hallucinated. His temperature did settle that afternoon but then he had diarrhoea.

“As his mum was cleaning him, she noticed his genitalia were black.

“I then examined Ryan. At this time I formed the opinion that Ryan may have had Addison’s disease. I didn’t share this with the family at the time because I didn’t have enough evidence.

“I believe that Ryan’s death was preventable. Addison’s is a disease which, once recognised, can be treated.”

She said it was easier to put things together retrospectively, as opposed to when treating an acute illness as a GP.

David Bowen, senior coroner for Gwent, paid tribute to Ryan’s family during the hearing.

“Before summing up, I think it’s right that I pay tribute to the dignity that has been shown by Mrs Morse and her family.

“It can’t have been easy for them to rehear events that took place over five years ago.

“Please accept my belated condolences.”

Mr Bowen told the inquest that Ryan had been fit and well up until July 2012.

“However at about that time, his parents began to notice a gradual change in his skin and a fluctuation in his general health.”

He had been diagnosed with a viral infection and prescribed Paracetamol, he said.

Over the next six to eight weeks, he did not improve.

Mr Bowen said: “Consequently, his mother took him back to the doctor. The GP was more concerned about the rash, it seems to me, than any of the other symptoms.

“He prescribed tablets and cream for that condition.”

Mr Bowen said that during October and November 2012, “Ryan’s health became much more of a concern for his parents.”

He suffered from headaches, pains in his legs, and occasional episodes of projectile vomiting.

On November 7, Mrs Morse took Ryan back to the GP surgery, where she described symptoms to Dr Rudling, who took samples of blood.

On November 21, they returned to receive the blood test results.

The results revealed a “slightly lower than normal” white blood cell count. The inquest heard Ryan was told he was still suffering from a viral infection that had been diagnosed some months earlier.

Mr Bowen said: “It appears that about this time, there was an outbreak of Norovirus or vomiting and sickness in the area that may have confused the diagnosis.”

Mrs Morse said: “I’d been told to bring Ryan back in January so I thought I would just get Christmas out of the way and take him back. I’d been a carer for 9-10 years but my job didn’t give me any insight into what Ryan had.”

On November 29, 2012, Ryan returned to school, but around a week later on December 6 he was so ill that his mum had to collect him early.

The following day, on December 7, Mrs Morse rang Abernant Surgery saying she needed to speak to a doctor.

Between 8.50am and 8.55am, she received a call from Dr Lyndsey Elizabeth Thomas.

Mrs Morse said: “She asked if he’d been given Paracetamol and I explained he wouldn’t take it. She asked what his temperature was like.

“I’d said Ryan was awake (that morning) and talking rubbish.”

The inquest heard Mrs Morse was asked to take Ryan to the surgery, but she said she was unable to.

“She then told me to give Ryan some dissolvable Paracetamol and see how it goes until dinner. She said fetch him up if you need to.”

Dr Lyndsey Elizabeth Thomas said her contact with Ryan was limited to a single telephone conversation with his mother on December 7.

She said: “I considered whether Ryan needed to be seen or admitted to hospital.

“I clearly recall explaining that if she had any concerns or if Ryan’s delirium or temperature didn’t improve in two hours, he would need to be seen, I would be able to go and visit him at the end of the morning surgery if necessary.”

Mrs Morse said she later noticed that her son’s genitals were black.

She rang the surgery and was put her through to Dr Rudling.

Mrs Morse said: “She said ‘it’s all to do with his hormones’. Phone Monday and we’ll fit him in. At this point I didn’t know what to think.

“I was thinking I’ll take him in on Monday and see what they say. There was no more temperature, no more sickness and no more diarrhoea.”

The inquest heard Dr Joanne Louise Rudling, who qualified in 1993, joined Abernant in August 2011.

She said her first contact with Ryan was in November 2012.

On December 7, Dr Rudling said the receptionist took a call from Ryan’s mother while she was in reception.

Dr Rudling said: “I decided to speak to Ryan’s mother in reception there and then.

“She also asked if this could be age related, I said it could be but I would have to examine him first.

“The impression I got was Ryan was improving. His mother was concerned about the darkening of his genitalia.”

Ryan’s father said goodnight around 10.15pm and went to bed. At around 11.10pm Mrs Morse could see Ryan had fallen asleep, and went to sleep herself at around 11.30pm.

She said: “I woke up and saw it was 4.10am and then I looked at Ryan and looking at his chest could see he wasn’t breathing.

“I started to do chest compressions, dialled 999, continued chest compressions until the paramedics arrived. They took over. They told me Ryan had died.”

Mr Bowen said: “This is a rare but natural disease, one which apparently GPs will not normally encounter.

“Unfortunately, neither doctor nor parents thought it necessary to refer Ryan to hospital, where the true nature of his illness may have been diagnosed.”

Recording a narrative conclusion, Mr Bowen said Ryan died of natural causes.

He said: “The opportunity to administer life-saving treatment was missed.”

Speaking after the inquest, Ryan’s sister Christina Morse said: “First of all I would like to thank everyone involved with Ryan and Ryan’s case.

“Today, after five long years, the coroner has come to the conclusion that Ryan’s death was due to natural causes and that Ryan’s death was preventable.”

From http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/boy-died-addisons-disease-after-13687355

High cortisol: Symptoms and signs

When we become stressed out bodies release cortisol – the stress hormone – which helps us cope with challenges. Cortisol’s role is to convert protein into energy by releasing glycogen and counteract inflammation. When cortisol is released in the body temporarily, this is okay and won’t have long-lasting detrimental effects to health as it is a natural response to a stressor. But when cortisol levels remain high chronically it can eventually begin to tear your body down thus causing health complications. This is why numerous health experts recommend the reduction of stress as much as possible because in the long run it can harm our health.

High cortisol levels over the long term can destroy healthy muscle and bone, slow down healing, impair digestion, metabolism and mental function, and weaken the immune system. Additionally, adrenal fatigue has been linked to numerous other health conditions including fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, premature menopause, and many others. High cortisol levels are also associated with many unwanted symptoms which we will outline below.

High cortisol symptoms

If you’re concerned about your cortisol levels, the following signs and symptoms associated with high cortisol levels can alert you and prompt you to make the necessary changes in order to reduce cortisol levels.

  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Skin symptoms including acne, skin infections, lesions, thin-appearing skin, bruising, growing facial hair, and reddish purple streaks on skin
  • Muscle and bone symptoms like a deep pain in the bones, weak muscles, chronic backaches, increased risk of bone fractures
  • Gender specific changes such as women developing male-pattern hair growth, irregular menstrual cycles, low libido, infertility
  • Neurological symptoms such as depression, irritability, headaches, chronic fatigue, and anxiety
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Poor sleep or lack of sleep
  • Swelling of hands and feet

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you may want to have your cortisol levels checked to confirm diagnosis. Living with high cortisol levels over the long term can have detrimental effects on a person’s health. Treating high cortisol as soon as possible can lower the risk of long-term health problems.

Causes of high cortisol

There are two main causes of high cortisol: Chronic stress and more rarely, Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s disease is caused by a hormone-secreting tumor on the adrenal gland which results in the release more cortisol than required.

Living with chronic stress also leads to high cortisol because the release of cortisol is a natural response from the body when it is stressed. The hypothalamic–pituitary-adrenal [HPA] axis is what regulates the timely release of cortisol during acute stress, but when stress becomes chronic the feedback from the HPA becomes damaged and so cortisol continues to be released.

Conditions that can contribute to chronic stress and high cortisol include:

  • Depression
  • Panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Severe obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Working in shifts
  • End-stage kidney disease
  • Chronic pain

Tips to lower high cortisol

Here are some tips that can help you lower your high cortisol levels and thus prevent long-term health problems associated with high cortisol. [MaryO’Note:  These will not work if you have active Cushing’s!    You must remove  the source of your Cushing’s first.]

  • Eat a well balanced meal with plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid sugars, consume low glycemic index foods, avoid processed foods, eat a wide variety of health foods to ensure you receive all essential vitamins and nutrients
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Take time out of each day to relax – listen to music, meditate, pray, perform your favorite hobby, anything that promotes relaxation
  • Take up yoga or tai chi
  • Ensure you are getting adequate sleep
  • Drink tea
  • Watch funny videos or hang out with a funny friend
  • Go for a massage
  • Do something spiritual – attend a service
  • Chew gum
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Stretch

By incorporating these helpful tips into your life you will find that your high cortisol symptoms begin to diminish and your overall health begins to improve.

From http://www.belmarrahealth.com/high-cortisol-symptoms-signs-look/

 

Cushing’s Syndrome and Skin Problems

By Afsaneh Khetrapal, BSc (Hons)

Cushing’s Syndrome (sometimes called hypercortisolism) is a hormonal disease caused by an abnormally high level of the hormone cortisol in the body. This may arise because of an endogenous or exogenous source of cortisol. Endogenous causes include the elevated production of cortisol by the adrenal glands, while exogenous causes include the excessive use of cortisol or other similar steroid (glucocorticoid) hormones over a prolonged period of time.

The adrenal glands are situated just above each kidney, and form part of the endocrine system. They have numerous functions such as the production of hormones called catecholamines, which includes epinephrine and norepinephrine. Interestingly, the outer layer (cortex) of the adrenal glands has the distinct responsibility of producing cortisol. This hormone is best known for its crucial role in the bodily response to stress.

At physiologically appropriate levels, cortisol is vital in maintaining normal sleep-wake cycles, and acts to increase blood sugar levels. It suppresses the immune system, regulates the effect of insulin on the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and help with the homeostasis of water in the body.

Exogenous corticosteroids can also lead to Cushing’s syndrome, when they are used as a form of long-term treatment for various medical conditions. In fact, the long-term use of steroid medication is the most common reason for the development of Cushing’s syndrome.

Prednisolone is the most commonly prescribed steroid medicine. It belongs to a class of medicine that is sometimes used to treat conditions such as certain forms of arthritis and cancer. Other uses include the rapid and effective reduction of inflammation in conditions such as asthma and multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as the treatment of autoimmune conditions such as lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Overall, Cushing’s syndrome is quite uncommon and affects approximately 1 in 50,000 people. Most of them are adults between the ages of 20 and 50.  Women are 3 times more commonly affected than men. Additionally, patients who are obese, or those who have type 2 diabetes with poorly controlled blood sugar and blood pressure show a greater predisposition to the disorder.

Symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome

There are numerous symptoms associated with Cushing’s syndrome, which range from muscle weakness, hypertension, curvature of the spine (kyphosis), osteoporosis, and depression, to fatigue Specific symptoms which pertain to the skin are as follows:

  • Thinning of the skin and other mucous membranes: the skin becomes dry and bruises easily. Cortisol causes the breakdown of some dermal proteins along with the weakening of small blood vessels. In fact, the skin may become so weak as to develop a shiny, paper-thin quality which allows it to be torn easily.
  • Increased susceptibility of skin to infections
  • Poor wound healing  of bruises, cuts, and scratches
  • Spots appear on the upper body, that is, on the face, chest or shoulders
  • Darkened skin which is seen on the neck
  • Wide, red-purple streaks (at least half an inch wide) called striae which are most common on the sides of the torso, the lower abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms, and breasts, or in areas of weight gain. The accumulation of fat caused by Cushing’s syndrome stretches the skin which is already thin and weakened due to cortisol action, causing it to hemorrhage and stretch permanently, healing by fibrosis.
  • Acne: this can develop in patients of all ages.
  • Swollen ankles: this is caused by the accumulation of fluid, called edema.
  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

Reviewed by Dr Liji Thomas, MD

From http://www.news-medical.net/health/Cushings-Syndrome-and-Skin-Problems.aspx

Cushing’s Awareness Challenge, Day 3: Symptoms

robin-symptoms

 

Robin has made another excellent graphic of some of the symptoms of Cushing’s.  There are far too many to be listed in any image, as shown by the list at http://www.cushings-help.com/toc.htm#symptoms

 

Just to be silly, a few years ago, I did my own version of Cushing’s symptoms:

 

The Seven Dwarves of Cushing's

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