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Addison's Disease Message Board

Addison's Disease Board Index

hi, so what you are trying to say is this: if you have 'primary' Addisons Disease, you may be subject to the discoloration of the skin. 'Primary' Addisons is the failure of the actual Adrenal Organ itself. Dr Addison discovered the disease named after him in 1849, by studying the corpses of people who had died of TB, 90% of which showed what he called 'Adrenal Failure' as a consequence of the degradation of the Adrenal Organ. This degradation can be caused by other diseases, such as TB, or (more likely in modern times, since TB has been cured) some other cause, like HIV, etc.

In the case of 'Secondary Addisons Disease' the source of the lack of cortisol is a faulty Pituitary Gland, there is nothing actually physically wrong with the Adrenal Organ, it simply is not receiving the 'signal' to make the cortisol from the Pituitary. Secondary takes its title from the fact that the Adrenal Cortex is not damaged, but instead the fault is a 'secondary' one, because the main problem is with the Pituitary.

In the case of 'Secondary' Addisons, instead of the 'Primary' symptoms of discolored skin, etc, there are a whole other constellation of symptoms which include the Pituitary and Thyroid. The reason the Thyroid is implied is that the Pituitary also sends signals to the Thyroid, which may also be faulty (into the bargain) so people with 'Secondary Addisons' also usually have accompanying complications of the Thyroid.

These accompanying complications are not seen in those who have 'Primary' Addisons, the degradation of the Adrenal Cortex. And, the treatment is different also, taking cortisol may not solve the problem. It has to be diagnosed through what is called an ACTH test, where you are injected with the hormone ACTH, which is given by the Pituitary, then results are measured over about 3 days. Treatment may involved hormones and / or steroids which mimic the ones missing from the Pituitary and / or Thyriod, which people with 'Primary' Addisons would not need.

In the case that you have Diabetes, this doesn't rule out 'Secondary ' Addisons Disease, either. One of the *possible* complications of 'Secondary ' Addisons is Diabetes type 2.

And, in order to be diagnosed to *know* for sure if you have Diabetes Type 2, you need to actually take an Insulin Test, not just measure your Blood Glucose. Taking regular measurements of Blood Glucose could really tip you off, however.

Diabetes is a very very very serious disease and should be taken with every precaution, it can cause obesity, kidney failure, loss of limbs, blindness and death. Cases in point: my sister's husband (previously mentioned) has huge problems with his internal organs, namely his kidneys and heart. He has lost a lot of blood circulation and has 'peripheral artery disease' which has forced him to undergo the amputation of one of his lower legs, just in this last year. He had a stroke, early on, because he didn't take care of himself, so now he has impairments related to a Stroke and Heart - disease. Etc. He spends a lot of time in a wheel chair, completely miserable.

And, my Dad's sister died of Diabetes, before I was born. My Dad recently told me several anecdotes about her also, since we were discussing my sister's husband's issues, in conversation. She didn't get treatment ; she became obese, went blind and died. Diabetes was considered the cause of her death. She died back in the 1960's I think, before a lot of the treatments for Diabetes Type 2 were well understood.

I have been reading about it and I was surprised to learn that 50% of all people who suffer from 'End Stage Renal Failure' have Diabetes. (kidney failure, to the point it has to be transplanted.........there are 4 stages, and the 'end stage' is terminal). It is not clear which condition causes the other, but it is thought that the Diabetes causes the Kidney Failure. Kidney problems are also a real danger in Addisons Disease, since part of what 'triggers' the 'crisis' is the loss of regulation of electrolytes.

Electrolyes are critical for the alkaline function of the kidney. The Kidneys must remain Alkaline at all times, without fail. During an Adrenal Crisis, a number of unpleasant things happen. The absence of sufficient Cortisol not only effects blood pressure (i.e.: loss of blood pressure) leading to 'fainting', but another influence on this event is the dis-regulation of electrolyte salts including Potassium, Calcium.

One of the 'symptoms' you will look for on a Blood Panel Test, which may indicate an Addison's Disease Crisis (but is not an absolute indicator for the Disease) is this dis-regulation of Potassium, Calcium. Another tell-tale sign is 'pernicious anemia' which is equally a tell-tale sign of Kidney Failure. So when you read the Blood Panel, make sure to note these readings, including Blood Hemoglobin and Hemocrit.

In Kidney Failure, pernicious Anemia results consequent to the loss of Kidney functions~ the Kidneys produce a hormone, which tells the blood to produce red blood cells. This problem can be treated with hormone injections, it doesn't have to be fatal (at least, not in people. In animals, it can be fatal, so watch out with your pets and don't let them get sick of kidney issues! there are no corresponding hormone shots for animals)

The key thing is to get a Blood Panel done and look at the results and try to figure out what is going on. You can order Blood Panel work off the internet, for a fee, you don't have to go through a DR for that. You can actually also order Cortisol tests by either blood, urine or saliva, off of the internet. However if indeed you have 'Secondary Addisons' you may not get immediate results from a Cortisol test, instead you will need to get the ACTH test to see if the Pituitary is causing the problem (which may require a Dr, its a very very rare condition, so the commercial market is not really prepared to meet this particular issue)

So: my advice is that you 1. Get a Blood Panel 2.Get Glucose Testing regularly. 3. Keep a Log of your Blood Pressure.

These will all indicate something. If you see that your electrolytes are out of order, or your glucose is out of order, that indicates what further testing is required. If you see that you have chronic low blood pressure, this is definatly an indication of chronic adrenal fatigue of some form of Addison's (including both primary and secondary).

Personally I have begun using Amino Acid therapy to combat my symptoms and I have recommended this to my parents and to my sister and her husband. They have also begun using Amino Acid's and vegetable protein powder (whey protein) to try to combat the irregularity of some of their Blood Panel Results. Certain Amino Acids are completely naturally occurring and have no side effects, these prevent some of the most dangerous symptoms of low blood pressure, glucose fluctuations, etc.

Namely I take the Amino Acids named : SAMe and L-Glutamine. These are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased over the counter at GNC or at a pharmacy or from a health food store, or an online nutritional outlet. As a supplement, you take them with the morning, noon and evening meals and use them 'as needed' for a Rescue Remedy.

SAMe is some what miraculous, in that it is also a powerful anti-depressant (with no side effects and no overdose limit!) and prevents osteo-porosis in the elderly, so its great for over 40 aged people. It improves the function of both the Kidney and Liver tremendously, improves blood circulation and much more. Just Google the name SAMe and you will be impressed.

L-Glutamine is a rescue remedy, that is even given in hospitals to prevent Infant Morbidity and given to people who are on 'critical care protein fluids' (ie: being fed through a tube) to prevent organ failure! That's how safe it is and how good for you it is! To prevent and treat low blood pressure, L-Glutamine is definitely recommended.

All of this is well known, I am not stating anything that cannot be immidiatly proven by simply Googling these facts. Medical studies abound about these Amino Acids and there is ample research which states exactly what I am repeating here. Both of these Amino Acids are completely safe for Diabetics and are even recommended, to stabilize dangerous fluctuations in essential Blood Panel readings.

One thing you should realize is that, even with a Dr's treatment, there is no known cure for Addison's Disease. And, 'Secondary' Addison's disease is not well understood at all. It is believed to be inherited and generally agreed to be genetic. You can get mitochondrial DNA testing for it (passed through the Mother) and it helps to look at the health of your immidatly family members to see if they have related Endocrine Disorders, such as problems with the Thyroid. Its also extremely rare, so even if you somehow miraculously get diagnosed through Blood Tests, there is no guarantee that your Endocrinologist will know what to do to help. Consequently having some way to prevent the 'Crisis' state, becomes all the more important.

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