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Addison Disease


Addison disease is also called primary adrenal insufficiency. It is a condition where your adrenal glands do not make enough adrenal hormones. These hormones help your body deal with stress, keep blood pressure normal, and balance salt and fluids. They also control how your body uses sugars, fats, and proteins. Addison disease can lead to an adrenal crisis (Addisonian crisis) if your adrenal gland becomes badly damaged. This is life-threatening and needs immediate treatment.



  • Steroid medicine: Steroids are given to balance the steroid hormone levels your adrenal glands naturally make. You may need to take this medicine for the rest of your life. You may need to change how much medicine you take when you are ill or have increased stress. Do not stop taking this medicine without talking to your healthcare provider. You can trigger an adrenal crisis if you stop taking steroids suddenly. You will need to keep extra medicine with you in case you have an adrenal crisis. Your healthcare provider will order medicine that can be given as a shot if you have a crisis. Ask your healthcare provider to show you and a friend or family member how to use this medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may follow-up blood tests to check your steroid hormone levels. You may need to have your bone density checked on a regular basis. Your endocrinologist may have you check your blood pressure and blood sugar on a regular basis. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Medical alert bracelet or necklace:

Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that says you have Addison disease. You may get one from your local drugstore or contact the MedicAlert Foundation listed below:

  • MedicAlert Foundation
    2323 Colorado Avenue
    Turlock , CA 95382
    Phone: 1- 888 - 633-4298
    Web Address:

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have diarrhea or constipation.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain.
  • You sweat or urinate more than usual.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You always feel dizzy when you stand up from a sitting or lying position.
  • You hear voices or see something that is not real.
  • You have severe pain in your stomach, waist, or back.
  • You have very dry skin, dry mouth and tongue, or feel more thirsty than normal.
  • Your symptoms become worse, even after you take medicine.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.