Addison’s disease is a condition that can occur no matter a person’s age. It involves the adrenal glands. When the disease goes untreated, it can lead to an “Addisonian crisis,” which occurs when the body is unable to release enough of a hormone called cortisol. When that happens, blood pressure and blood sugar can drop too low and potassium levels can be too high. An Addisonian crisis can lead to death, so it requires emergency medical care. If your older family member has Addison’s disease, knowing more about it can help you to better respond to their needs.
Causes of Addison’s Disease
Addison’s disease occurs when the adrenal glands are damaged, causing them to be unable to release enough cortisol. There are two adrenal glands in the body. They lie on top of each of the two kidneys. They are an important part of the endocrine system since the hormones they produce provide instructions to organs and tissues.
Each adrenal gland is made up of two parts, the cortex, which is the outer part, and the medulla, the inner part. The cortex makes three different kinds of hormones, glucocorticoid, mineralocorticoid, and sex hormones. Addison’s disease is the result of damage to the cortex, making it unable to produce enough hormones.
Addison’s disease is caused by one of two things:
- Primal Adrenal Insufficiency: The cortex itself has suffered damage and cannot produce enough hormones. This is usually caused by an autoimmune disorder. It can also be caused by tuberculosis, cancer that spreads to the adrenal glands, infections in the adrenal glands, and bleeding into the adrenal gland.
- Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency: To release hormones, the adrenal glands must receive a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the pituitary gland. When the pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough ACTH, the adrenal glands cannot do their job.
Symptoms of Addison’s Disease
The symptoms of Addison’s disease can take months to develop. They can be so mild that they are ignored until something causes stress and the symptoms suddenly get worse. Some of the symptoms of Addison’s disease are:
- Severe fatigue.
- Weight loss and lack of appetite.
- Darkening of the skin.
- Low blood pressure.
- Salt cravings.
- Low blood sugar.
- Gastrointestinal problems, like nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.
- Pain in the abdomen.
- Pain in muscles or joints.
If your older family member has been diagnosed with Addison’s disease, home care can help to monitor them for signs of an Addisonian crisis. If a crisis occurs, the home care provider can call for emergency assistance. In addition, a home care provider can help to manage the disease by reminding the older adult when it is time to take medications.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Home Care in Sunny Isles, FL please contact the caring staff at Elite Care At Home today at (305) 231-0555.
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