How is Addison’s disease treated?
Treating Addison’s disease usually involves taking prescription corticosteroids to replace the hormones your body is not making. If your body is not making enough cortisol, your doctor may prescribe hydrocortisone, prednisone or cortisone acetate. If your body is not making enough aldosterone, your doctor may prescribe fludrocortisone. These medicines are taken every day by mouth (in pill form).
Your doctor may also recommend you take an androgen replacement called dehydroepiandrosterone. Some women who have Addison’s disease find that taking an androgen replacement improves their mood and sex drive.
If you are experiencing an Addisonian crisis, you need immediate medical care. The treatment typically consists of intravenous (IV) injections of hydrocortisone, saline (salt water) and dextrose (sugar). These injections help restore blood pressure, sugar and potassium levels to normal.
What should I do after my doctor has diagnosed Addison’s disease?
You should prepare yourself to handle a medical emergency if you have Addison’s disease:
- Carry a medical alert card and bracelet at all times so that emergency medical workers know what kind of care you need.
- Keep extra medicine with you in case you forget to take your pills. Ask your doctor about a prescription for an injectable form of corticosteroids for use in emergency situations.
- Keep in touch with your family doctor. Let him or her know if your symptoms change or if your medicines stop working the way they used to.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff