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Addison Disease

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  • Addison disease is a condition that causes low levels of aldosterone and cortisol. These hormones are made by your adrenal glands. Cortisol helps your body handle stress. Aldosterone helps your body balance salt, potassium, and fluid.
  • An adrenal crisis happens when your cortisol and aldosterone levels suddenly drop. This may lead to low blood pressure, dehydration, and low blood sugar. An adrenal crisis is life-threatening and needs immediate treatment. An adrenal crisis can happen if you suddenly stop taking your medicine. It can also happen when your body is under more stress than usual. This may happen during surgery, an illness, or trauma.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicine:

  • Steroid medicine is given to increase your cortisol level. This may help increase your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and decrease symptoms such as weakness.
  • Sodium (salt) helps increase the amount of salt in your blood.
  • Glucose helps increase your blood sugar level.
  • Blood pressure medicine may be given to increase your blood pressure.

IV fluids

will be given to treat dehydration and increase your blood pressure.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests may be collected to measure your hormone levels and check for infection. Blood tests also check your blood sugar levels, electrolyte levels, blood cell levels, and kidney function. Your pituitary and thyroid gland hormone levels may also be measured.
  • An x-ray, CT, or MRI are done to check the size of your adrenal gland. These tests also check for problems that may cause Addison disease. You may be given contrast liquid to help the pictures show up better. Tell a healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell a healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A biopsy takes a sample of your adrenal gland. The sample can be checked for signs of Addison disease.

RISKS:

You can have an adrenal crisis if you do not take your medicine or do not get treatment. An adrenal crisis can cause severe dehydration, low blood pressure, and low blood sugar or sodium levels. These problems can become life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 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.

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