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Addison's Disease Information

  • Addison's disease (also known as chronic adrenal insufficiency, or hypocortisolism) is a rare endocrine disorder. It is estimated that it affects about 1 to 2 in 100,000 people. It occurs when the adrenal glands, seated above the kidneys, fail to produce enough of the hormone cortisol and, sometimes, the hormone aldosterone...
  • Addison's disease refers specifically to primary adrenal insufficiency, in which the adrenal glands themselves malfunction; secondary adrenal insufficiency occurs when the anterior pituitary gland does not produce enough adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) to adequately stimulate the adrenal glands.


    Treatment for Addison's disease involves replacing the missing cortisol and, if necessary, fludrocortisone as replacement for the missing aldosterone. Caution must be exercised when the person with Addison's disease has surgery or becomes pregnant. Treatment for an acute attack - an Addisonian Crisis - usually involves intravenous (into blood veins) injections of: Hydrocortisone, Saline solution (basically a salt water, same clear IV bag as used to treat dehydration), and Dextrose (a type of sugar).


    While treatment solutions for Addison's Disease are far from precise, overall long-term prognosis is typically good. Because of individual physiological differences, each person with Addison's must work closely with their physician to adjust their medication dosage and schedule to find the most effective routine. Once this is accomplished (and occasional adjustments must be made from time to time, especially during periods of travel, stress, or other medical conditions), symptomology is usually greatly reduced or occasionally eliminated so long as the person continues their dosage schedule accurately.

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