Addisons disease is a chronic diseases that most people should be aware of. Addisons disease can be a life threatening disease that is also known under several other names like hypocortisolism, hypoadrenalism and even chronic adrenal insufficiency. From the word itself, the disease arises when there is a decrease in the normal level of hormones primarily coming from the adrenal glands. The specific hormones that are not regularly produced are the steroid hormones which are mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids. Decreased levels of cortisol and even aldosterone are actually produced. Addisons disease should definitely be known by people because this disease can occur in all age groups regardless of gender.
The insufficient production of hormones from the adrenal gland can be brought about by the bodys own action to cause damage to its immune system. There are several unique signs and symptoms that come with the presence of this disease. Here are the known signs and symptoms of Addisons Disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Addisons Disease – Symptoms: What The Patient Experiences
The symptoms of Addisons Disease may not be felt readily. Instead, they gradually develop and before you know it, you already have the disease. Some of the most common symptoms of Addisons Disease are weakness or easy fatigability primarily involving the muscles, weight loss, lightheadedness, fever, nausea and vomiting, headache, body pains and diarrhea. Other symptoms involving mood can also be observed like anxiety and some noticeable personality changes. Aside from these, there can also be darkening of some areas of the skin or increased tanning.
Signs: What The Doctor Sees or Identifies
Some of the signs of Addisons disease that can be determined upon examination are orthosatic hypotension wherein the patient finds it difficult to stand from a sitting or lying position. This is primarily due to low blood pressure. Hyperpigmentation is also one of the signs most especially in the areas that are highly exposed to the sun. This is because lack of regular adrenal gland activity can also affect the hormones responsible for skin color which is the melanocyte stimulating hormone.
Addisonian Crisis: A Life Threatening Condition
Addisonian crisis is a condition combining several different symptoms that already indicates severe problems with the adrenal glands. This can happen if an initial diagnosis of Addisons disease is not given appropriate treatment. This can be considered as a medical emergency because it can definitely pose a threat to the life of the patient. Its symptoms include low blood pressure, syncope or inability to maintain balance, pain in various parts of the body, lower than normal levels of blood sugar or hypoglycemia, severe lethargy or sleepiness, fever, convulsions and abnormal blood levels wherein Sodium remains low while Calcium and Potassium are persistently elevated.
How Can Addisons Disease Be Diagnosed?
There are several tests that you can take to determine if you have Addisons disease or not. You can be advised to have blood tests as abnormal levels of Sodium, Calcium and Potassium together with cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone may indicate the presence of the disease. You can also have imaging tests particularly computerized tomography scan of the abdomen to be able to check the size of your adrenal glands and other organs. You can also be suggested to have magnetic resonace imaging to check if there is any abnormality with your pituitary gland. Another diagnostic test would be adrenocrticotropic hormone stimulation test of ACTH test wherein your cortisol levels will be checked accordingly. A synthetic ACTH would be injected to you and your adrenal gland response will then be monitored. If there is no or limited increase of cortisol after the injection then you might have the disease. Lastly, you can also be advised to have the insulin-induced hypoglycemia test. In this test, your blood sugar will be checked together with your cortisol levels after you are injected with insulin. The abnormal response would be decrease in or no change in cortisol level.
For you to be able to treat Addisons disease, you should be able to normalize your hormones because the main reason for the existence of this disease involves an insufficiency in the production of hormones. The main treatment involves hormone replacement therapy to correct the levels of steroid hormones in your body. There from oral to injected corticosteroids and also androgen replacement, depending on what the doctor best recommends for you. You should also be able to maintain an adequate intake of sodium rich foods so that you could be able to normalize your low levels.
These are some of the most important things that you need to know about Addisons disease. It is not just like any ordinary case of flu or fever. Addisons Disease is something that can truly be life-threatening thus requiring appropriate treatment immediately.