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Addison's Disease Message Board

Addison's Disease Board Index

Exercise intolerant? OH Yeah!!

This is one of the major symptoms. You've got to overcome it, but I imagine it's going to be hard to help a kid get over it.

I used to either figure skate or rollerblade every day. But I kept getting in worse and worse condition -- shakey after exercise, sweat pouring off of me (literally -- objects nearby would get soaked), legs hardly working. Then in October, 2002, I broke my hip, and got pneumonia (again). My ability to exercise continued to drop, and got much worse after I was hospitalized with influenza Dec 2003, until March 2004 when sitting up for a hour became major exercise. Even ended up getting an emergency angiogram in Feb 2004 (OK). Finallly, on Marchh 26 I got the word to start prednisone and things started getting better.

There are several factors at work: Muscle strength, electrolyte balance (low sodium, high potassium), dehydration, losing salt through sweating, low cardiac output due to heart muscle inelacsticity (due to low cortisol), hypoglycemia, and possibly steroid myopathy. (And in my case, neuropathy and a damaged hip).

If your son is sweating excessivly, it may be he needs more florinef. That also addresses electrolytes and dehydration, and helped me enormously. The heart output will improve with time with steroid replacement. Hypoglycemia -- eat lots of snacks, especially before and during exercise -- and test! It's worth getting or borrowing a glucose meter for this even if he's not diabetic, just to make sure he's not having problems; it's a common symptom of Addison's.

Work on muscle strength. I've gone from not being able to climb a flight of stairs without suffering fatigue, to being able to cut weeds in the garden for 10 minutes, to doing it for about 20 minutes. I have a lot more upper-body strength, and my walking is getting to the point where I can envision abandoning my cane. I was using a wheelchair for some trips as recently as 6 weeks ago. (I thought the problem was my hip and neuropathy, but it turns out to be the Addison's that affected my walking most of all!)

You need to push a little on the exercise, but focus on strength, not endurance or aerobics at this stage. (I don't know what happens later!) Don't push it too hard, just keep on pushing it a little, and do it regularly, and be patient. It's going to take some time, but it pays off.

If he's pushing on the exercise, he may need a little more steroid to cover that. Based on my limited personal experience, in the early stages there's little tolerance for under-replacement at any point; I think it makes sense to start a little on the high side and reduce it once some of the strength comes back. I've had to be on extra for some of the time due to asthma, etc., and I think it's helped me recover and be more stable -- but the proof of that will come next week when I get back down to normal on my current taper. But I've been feeling better and better as the taper has proceeded and gotten lower.

Try doing some sort of gentle strength exercise together with him for a few minutes each day. Maybe put on ankle and wrist weights, and strike funny poses at each other and be silly for 10 minutes or whenever he shows signs of fatigue. Skip a day if he's wiped out the next day from it, but keep at it. Be creative! Let him be creative!

Good luck!

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