Addison’s Disease is a long-term autoimmune disease caused by an insufficient number of adrenal hormones in the body. This disease is a rare endocrine disorder that is caused by the adrenal glands “producing fewer hormones out of all three classes, the classes of these hormones are called glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, and androgens” (Lewis, 1211). The hormone cortisol is one of the hormones that is reduced when Addison’s disease is apparent. “This hormone is a glucocorticoid and this class of hormones affects all the tissues and organs in the human body. The function of this cortisol is to maintain blood pressure and heart functions, regulate metabolism and slow the bodies immunity response” (“Adrenal Insufficiency & Addison’s Disease”).
The symptoms of this disease vary because it is an endocrine-related issue. This disease has very common symptoms that would include fatigue, weight loss, hypotension and muscle weakness. “One main symptom to look for in patients with this disease would be hyperpigmentation, which would be “bronzing” of the skin” (“Addison’s Disease”). Their skin will become darker because of higher levels of melanin being released in certain areas of their body. “People with this disease may crave salty foods because they are at risk for hyponatremia, which means they will have low sodium in their body” (“Addison’s Disease”). According to Adrenal Insufficiency & Addison’s Disease, people with this disease may be required by a dietician to have a diet very high in sodium because it will benefit them since their body doesn’t meet the levels of sodium needed in the body. (“Adrenal Insufficiency ; Addison’s Disease”)
There are actually a few different causes of this disease. Some of the things that can cause Addison’s disease aren’t as prevalent in people in the United States. “A common cause for Addison’s disease in the United States is an autoimmune response in the body. This means that antibodies fight against the persons own body, in this case meaning that the adrenal tissue is destroyed by the adrenal cortex. Tuberculosis can cause Addison’s disease worldwide, but it is uncommon in the United States. More causes of this disease are infarction, fungal infections, AIDS and metastatic cancer” (Lewis, 1211). If this disease is caused by tuberculosis, then it can be cured by certain medications over a period. But if the disease is caused by an autoimmune response then it will not be able to be cured.
According to the textbook, Medical-Surgical Nursing, the disease is often advanced before it is diagnosed because the manifestations do not become evident until the 90% of the adrenal cortex is destroyed. It is a slow, progressive disease and it could result in death if it isn’t treated (Lewis 1211). The disease can result in an Addisonian crisis. An Addisonian crisis is triggered by stress, withdrawal, surgery or a sudden destruction in the pituitary gland (Lewis, 1211). When this happens, individuals may feel severe pain in the lower body, vomiting, low blood pressure and loss of consciousness. “This is a medical emergency. If this goes untreated then the patient will have life-threatening complications” (“Addison’s Disease”). To treat the Addisonian crisis, the patient will need to have an injection of the hormone that is needed, and “it is possible that the patient could have one of these injections on them at all times and to make sure the people they are with would know how to give the injection” (Adrenal Insufficiency ; Addison’s Disease). This disease is treated by having an injection of the hormone cortisol or taking daily medication to replace the hormones that are reduced in the body, so you can get them up to their proper levels.
People cannot be diagnosed with this disease without going through a clinical evaluation. The physician will want to see if the person’s blood has high levels of potassium or low levels of sodium to start out the diagnosing process. After they do blood tests to check the levels of sodium or potassium, they will start doing other tests to fully diagnose the individual. “The diagnosis can be confirmed by ACTH stimulation tests, this will measure the amount of cortisol that the person has in their blood. Having x-ray exams will also be able to confirm if the person has this disease or not because it will show scans of the abdomen to check the size and calcification of the adrenal glands. Lastly, the person will need to have an insulin-induced hypoglycemia test, this will determine if the symptoms the person is having is related to the problems within their pituitary gland, it will measure the blood glucose levels” (“Addison’s Disease”).
There are some cases where this disease has been linked to being passed down through families. “In these cases, it has only been seen to have a genetic predisposition. This means that, yes, the gene for this disease can be passed down through generations, but the disease wouldn’t be “active” until another type of factor triggered the disease” (“Addison’s Disease”). Addison’s disease can be a component of a syndrome called Autoimmune Polyglandular syndrome. In the textbook, Medical-Surgical Nursing, it talks about this syndrome. Medical-Surgical Nursing by Lewis says that this syndrome is “caused by a mutation in the genes that help regulate the immune system, this condition can be inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.” (Lewis 1211). So, I would say that this disease could be considered genetic, it just depends on how the disease occurs in a certain individual. According to a study in Norway, the mortality rate for people with Addison’s disease seemed to be normal. “In this study there with 811 patients with Addison’s disease and only 147 were deceased. The major cause of death was acute adrenal failure and infections. People with this disease passed away between the ages of 65-76” (US National Library of Medicine). A lot of the times people will live a decent amount of time with this disease. It becomes more fatal when the disease turns into an Addisonian crisis. The prognosis of this disease is excellent if the patient abides by what the doctor orders for them and they have the medication adjusted to the amount needed.
From the research I have done on Addison’s disease, every resource that I put in this paper seemed to be very accurate. They all have credible sources and they also all say the same things about this disease, just in different ways. I believe that all my information used in this paper and the information used in each source is correct. I think this disease has been well explored and they do seem to know the causes of this disease and things to do to treat this and prevent it from getting worse. The textbook that I used to collect information from went into a lot more detail about this disease and how to recognize it and treat it. The website, rarediseases.org, went into more detail about the hormone that this disease affects and what those hormones did for our body. The purpose of the sources that I used would be to inform the reader about the disease and what some of the underlying causes of this disease would be. The target audience for the websites that I used would probably just be anyone who wants to learn more about Addison’s disease. I would say that the target audience for the textbook that I used would be mostly for nursing students since it is a nursing book. I really enjoyed doing this assignment. It made me excited to actually start nursing school and getting to research different disease processes. This assignment gave me a good insight on this disease and it helped me understand it.