What to do during an adrenal crisis

What to do during an adrenal crisis

It is always advisable to train a partner, loved ones or close friends on how to handle an adrenal crisis should you experience this. An endocrinologist may suggest that you bring someone along for training purposes.

During an adrenal crisis, it is likely that you will be in shock, therefore it is vital that someone knows what to do in this emergency situation. If you are in shock or experience diarrhoea or vomiting, you may need to have an injection (an endocrinologist will give you an emergency injection kit).

It is likely that hydrocortisone will need to be administered immediately, in this case, your endocrinologist should be called immediately afterwards.

Your partner should call the local emergency number when you are suffering from an adrenal crisis. If able to do so, he or she will need to inject you with hydrocortisone. The injection can be administered in the upper leg muscle or buttock.

The signs and symptoms of an acute adrenal crisis are:

  • Pale, clammy and cold skin
  • Severe dehydration
  • Shallow and rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Severe muscle weakening
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Headache

Once you are in hospital, a medical team will ensure you are given fluid intravenously (via a vein in your arm) in order for you to be rehydrated. This fluid will contain a combination of sugars (dextrose and glucose) and salts (sodium), in order to replace what you are lacking. A nurse or doctor will also inject you with hydrocortisone if this has not already been done on the scene of the initial adrenal crisis.

If there are any underlying injuries and infections that caused the acute adrenal crisis, these will then be treated.

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