Medical Question – Addison Crisis

I recently received an email asking about Addison Crisis.

It reads:  My sister-in law just was sent to the hospital and came back with a Diagnosis of Addison Disease and was told she had a crisis. What does this mean?

The answer is interesting.

First Question: What is Addison’s Disease?

Addison’s Disease is a medical condition with many side effects and problems. In this condition, the the Adrenal Gland does not produce enough steroid hormones. (Glucocorticoids as well as mineralocorticoids)

It is a rare condition that affects the Endocrine System. This condition can also be called:  Chronic Adrenal Insufficiency. 70-80% of the time, there is an insufficiency of the adrenal hormone called Cortisol.

Often the cause is damage from one’s own Immune System. This can be referred to as Primary Adrenal Insufficiency. Tumors can be seen, but this is a rare cause agent.

**** Addison’s disease is named after Dr. Thomas Addison, the British physician who first described the condition in 1849

Now, onto Addison Crisis!!

It is really called an Addisonian Crisis. This occurs possibly as the result of an undiagnosed condition or a serious change in adrenal function. This is a medical emergency and potentially life-threatening situation. Hospitalization is often necessary part of this disease.

Symptoms Are The Following:

1.)  Sudden pain in legs, lower back, or abdomen
2.)  Severe vomiting and diarrhea
3.)  Dehydration
4.)  Low blood pressure
5.)  Syncope – Loss of consciousness or ability to stand
6.)  Hypoglycemia [Low blood sugar]
7.)  Fevers
8.)  Confusion
9.)  Psychosis
10.)  Slurred Speech
11.)  Lethargy
12.)  Convulsions

Treatment for Crisis

Standard therapy involves injections of hormones. Large volumes of IV fluid including Dextrose. Fluid by mouth is the next treatment when patient becomes more stable.

Take a look at this to get a better understanding:

Click on the picture to get a better view!

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