Living with adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease)

Living with adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease)

Many who suffer from Addison’s disease find that with the help of various medications, they are able to continue to lead normal lives and maintain normal diets, as well as fitness and exercise programmes. Bear in mind, when taking medication regularly, you may still experience episodes of fatigue, as this is a common symptom of Addison’s disease. Therefore, it may take some time to adjust to these episodes and learn how to manage them.

You may also discover that having to stick to the dosage of medications is restrictive to your routine and takes a toll on your emotional health and daily life. Taking your medication too late or missing can also result in insomnia or exhaustion.

Should you develop another condition such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or diabetes, or have an existing condition, then you will require additional management of these disorders and potentially need more extensive treatment.

You will normally have to see your endocrinologist (hormone specialist) every six to 12 months, this will allow for the endocrinologist to review your symptoms and progress and change the dosage of medication if need be. It is also possible for your family doctor (general practitioner) to provide further support, as well as repeat prescriptions between the visits with your endocrinologist.

If you fail to regularly take your treatment, this may lead to an acute adrenal crisis, it is therefore vital that you:

  • Collect your prescriptions (monthly or weekly)
  • Take your medications regularly at the same time every day
  • Pack additional medication if you are going away
  • Carry the medication in hand luggage if you are flying in case of an emergency (your doctor will be able to provide you with a note to explain why this is necessary and allow for you to do so)
  • Keep any spare medication where necessary
  • Inform colleagues, family and close friends of your condition and explain what the symptoms of an adrenal crisis are and what they will need to do should you have one.
  • Wear your medical bracelet as this will inform medical staff who are treating you in a medical emergency of your condition. This is a piece of jewellery that is engraved with the conditions you may have and other vital information, as well as a contact number for emergencies.

Addison's disease long term outlook

If you suffer from Addison’s disease, your treatment will be lifelong and medication will need to be administered daily. This hormone therapy will allow for your symptoms to be managed. In following your medication and treatment according to your doctor’s instructions, you will find that you are able to live a normal and productive life.

It is advised that you ALWAYS take your medications as directed. If not, this could land you in a dangerous situation such as an adrenal crisis. It is likely that your treatment will be re-evaluated and adjusted as you learn to manage and deal with your condition. Because of this, it is vital that you see your doctor on a regular basis.

 Addison's disease explained

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