Monday, October 1, 2012

Other Possible Problems if you have Addison's Disease

When adding up my stresses, I’m learning that I have to consider other physical problems I might have.  Here are health problems which are common among people with Addison’s Disease.

Thyroid deficiency - 1/5 of all people with Addison’s have either low (most) or high thyroid (a few have hyperthyroidism);  this would effect your body temperature and energy levels

Anemia (low iron levels) and/or B12 deficiency - (atrophic gastritis); caused by damage to the stomach lining
This will make you feel more tired, depressed, and have trouble remembering
a B12 deficiency can cause permanent nerve damage

Celiac Disease - (gluten sensitivity- grains)
causes damage to small intestine
(70% of your immune system lines the small intestine and can be severely damaged by Celiac reactions to gluten)
damage results in malabsorbsion and malnutrition problems
and perhaps allergies and chemical sensitities

Hypotension (low blood pressure) - indicates severe stress and possible dehydration
Hypertension (high blood pressure) - indicates becoming stressed

Osteoporosis - can be caused by a too high of level of cortisone or by malaborbsion problems

Low DHEA (an adrenal hormone) - may cause PMS and menopause difficulties; little libido and little stamina; premature ovarian or testicular failure

Diabetes - insulin dependent; may have sensitivity and over reaction to insulin; may crave sweets

Asthma - may be result of damage to immune system

Diabetes Insipidus - produce lots of dilute urine

Parathyroid Deficiency - results in low calcium levels

70 % of Addison’s Disease is caused by auto immune reactions where the body attacks and destroys its own adrenal glands. Once you have one auto immune problem your body may continue to attack other parts of your body such as the thyroid, stomach, intestines, pancreas, or joints (rheumatoid arthritis).

Since the adrenal glands control the rest of the endocrine system (the pancreas. thyroid, parathyroid, and ovaries or testes), if the adrenals are low, the other glands may also be low functioning.

I must also consider other physical stresses such as: injuries, illness, lack of sleep, and extremes in temperatures. For instance, I’ve learned that  going out in below freezing temperatures requires more hydrocortisone.

The adrenal glands normally produce 26 hormones which help to maintain a state of well being in your body. We can replace the two main hormones produced by the adrenal glands: cortisone which helps to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and aldosterone which regulates blood pressure. Though these hormones are nearly identical to what you body normally makes, it is not the same. When you experience a stress, your body produces the necessary hormones in the right amounts and you feel fine. Mine doesn’t do anything. If I don’t take more medication, I will die of shock. Therefore my body is always under some stress and can quickly become over stressed. This is why I must keep aware of the stress my body is experiencing and learn to compensate by resting and increasing my hydrocortisone. If I do not, I will have an Adrenal Crisis.

Adrenal Crisis or steroid insufficiency

severe nausea
smashing headache
severe dizziness
extreme weakness
chills or fever


  1. I've had Addison's Disease for 28 year's now and I can tell you there are so many other problems that can tag along because of the disease. I do have Hypothyroidism (schmidts syndrom- the combination of thyroid disease and addison's disease.) My thyroid was diagnosed a few months before the Addison's. Through the year's I've had difficulty with sores developing in different area's of my body that have all needed to be removed because of the infection., Strangely enough I had a virus around my mouth that spread around to other area's of my face, similiar to shingles. This virus seemed to be brought on by extreme stress (lost my mother that year) with redness that got heated like a super bad sunburn. To this day doctor's don't know why this happens to me and it's very painful. Also I started having pain in my hands, lower back and legs for no reason at all. In 2009 I was hospitalized twice for the flu/ possible Addisonian crisis, but later that year it was discovered that fluid had leaked into the lining of my chest and heart and I was on the verge of congestive heart failure. I had major surgeries in 6 weeks and was hospitalized more than 17 times from 2009-2012. Last year I was in twice. I have been diagnosed with Plueurisy. I also have Fibromyalgia. I feel for anyone who has to deal with the other problems on top of Addison's, but know I do recover and move on, and enjoy my life otherwise.

  2. Shelly, I'm sorry that you have had so many challenges to deal with. My prayers are with you. If one part of you isn't working, such as our adrenal gland, it can have many effects on the rest of our body. I have also been told that I have Fibromyalgia. I always have worse symptoms when my adrenal medication is low and less when I am rested, so I wonder if it isn't just another name for the symptoms of low Adrenal function. I'm glad you are getting better now. Hang in there! Life is worth living!