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Addison's Disease Message Board

Addison's Disease Board Index

I am so sorry that you have been diagnosed.
Not knowing the circumstances, it does happen from autoimmune disease or other causes but in any case, the results are the same.

When the adrenals do not function, the body does not handle stress or salt well. In that case, the body can have life-threatening complications. The adrenals have several functions, including male/female hormones, adrenaline, cortisol and salt regulation. The last two are critical. In a normal state, cortisol is what gets you up in the morning and puts you to sleep at night. It has higher levels in a normal person and lowers throughout the day. That is why usually you have to take medication in divided doses and try to mimic this rhythm. Or a doc will put you on a long acting steroid (but that will have unfortunate long term effects later, sadly). This will work most days but if you are sick or stressed, the body would normally produce more cortisol. Your body cannot. So you must take more. If you do not, you can get sick, or you can die. Sodium will drop and potassium will rise usually. BP lowers. All easily avoided by taking a little bit more, or depending on what is going on, doubling your dose. You have to learn how and when to stress dose.

While all this sounds really scary at first (and it does, I know, I have no adrenals so there is no fall back for me!), you do learn and get the hang of it and get quality of life back. Get an alarm watch to not forget meds and get into the habit of eating more salt. Addison people need more salt, not less. Keep hydrated as well.

You may also need another medication - fludrocortisone - which is the mineralcorticosteroid and will help you retain salt and keep your renin and aldosterone levels up properly. There are other posts to read and get good advice.

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