Lightning Learning: Addison's Disease

Lightning Learning: Addison's Disease

“Addison’s Disease is when the adrenal glands produce insufficient adrenal hormones, aka hypoadrenalism or primary adrenal insufficiency.”
— advice is based on local guidelines & procedures

What?

When the adrenal glands produce insufficient adrenal hormones, aka hypoadrenalism or primary adrenal insufficiency.

 

Causes include:

  • Autoimmune

  • Adrenalectomy

  • Infections such as TB or HIV

Signs & Symptoms can be non-specific:

  • Exhaustion, weakness, weight loss, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, abdo pains, headache, hypotension and deep skin pigmentation.

 
Patients require lifelong daily steroids, and may require extra when unwell.

Why?

In UK 1-in-10,000 people have Addison’s disease, with 300-350 new cases diagnosed each year. It is rare but potentially fatal. Addison’s crisis can lead to coma & death. Prompt treatment with steroids & IV fluids is needed.

Signs & symptoms of crisis:

  • Extreme weakness

  • Confusion

  • Drowsiness & coma

  • Tachycardia or bradycardia

  • Hypotension/cool periphery

  • Abdominal pain and tenderness & pain in lower back pain and legs

  • Headache

  • Hyperkalaemia/Hyponatremia

  • Severe D&V leading to dehydration

Further Reading

Visit addisons.org.uk for more information
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