Addison’s disease is a rare endocrine, or hormonal disorder that affects about 1 in 100,000 people. The disease is characterized by weight loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, and sometimes darkening of the skin in both exposed and non-exposed parts of the body.The symptoms of adrenal insufficiency usually begin gradually. Blood pressure is low and falls further when standing, causing dizziness or fainting. Skin changes also are common in Addisons disease, with areas of hyperpigmentation, or dark tanning, covering exposed and nonexposed parts of the body.
Meeting a medical practitioner: Treatment of Addisons disease involves replacing, or substituting, the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making. Cortisol is replaced orally with hydrocortisone tablets, a synthetic glucocorticoid, taken once or twice a day. If aldosterone is also deficient, it is replaced with oral doses of a mineralocorticoid, called fludrocortisone acetate (Florinef)), which is taken once a day, they do not require aldosterone replacement therapy. The doses of each of these medications are adjusted to meet the needs of individual patients.
Therapeutic aspects: A person who has adrenal insufficiency should always carry identification stating his or her condition in case of an emergency. The card should alert emergency personnel about the need to inject 100 mg of cortisol if its bearer is found severely injured or unable to answer questions. The card should also include the doctors name and telephone number and the name and telephone number of the nearest relative to be notified. When traveling, it is important to have a needle, syringe, and an injectable form of cortisol for emergencies.