Addison’s disease is caused when insufficient amounts of cortisol are produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is required by almost every system in the body to cope with stress, and gives the body the reflexes and energy it needs when faced with a fight or flight scenario. Sometimes a sufferer of Addison’s disease may also not produce enough aldosterone and will need treatment for both hormones. The condition is also known as hypocortisolism or adrenal insufficiency.
It is a gradual or progressive disorder, where symptoms get worse over time. In 50 per cent of cases, the person will also experience diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Typically, people who have Addison’s disease also have chronic low blood pressure, which drops even further when they stand for long periods of time, and may even cause fainting or dizziness.
Hyperpigmentation or skin darkening is another defining characteristic, and is usually most noticeable on skin folds, on scars and pressure points like knuckles, elbows and knees. Sometimes the hyperpigmentation may affect the body internally, in the mucus membranes.
Treatment needs to replace the hormones that the adrenal glands are deficient in, and may be cortisol substitution or cortisol and aldosterone. People who have Addison’s disease are usually recommended to introduce more salt into their diets to increase their blood pressure.
When a person is having an addisonian crisis and symptoms worsen, they will experience low blood glucose, low blood pressure and high potassium levels at once which, when combined, can be potentially life threatening. In addition to hormone treatment for cortisol and aldosterone dextrose will be administered intravenously to increase low blood sugar and saline solution will also be administered through IV to increase blood pressure.
Low blood pressure is diagnosed when a person has a reading of 90/55 and may be accompanied by feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness and even fainting. While it is less common than high blood pressure, it may require treatment other than increasing your sodium intake. Your doctor at low cost medical clinics in Las Vegas will be in the best position to give you guidance on blood pressure medication.