Beyond Addison’s Disease

While Derek was in hospital they told him he had Adrenal Insufficiency, and handed us some documents that talked about Addison’s Disease.  OK.  What’s that?

We were given a prescription for Hydrocortisone and SoluCortef (Injectable) and told we would receive an appointment with an Endocrinologist.

No problem.  We went home and started investigating what Addison’s Disease meant.

What we found out was that it was called Addison’s Disease when your Adrenal Cortex was damaged and not producing the Cortisol you required. There are a lot more hormones that are produced by the Adrenal Cortex but Cortisol is the main one.

What Addison’s disease doesn’t cover is the Adrenal Medulla (inner part of the Adrenal Gland) which is where the Adrenaline (or epinephrine and norepinephrine) comes from.

Derek stated a number of times to his ACC Claims Manager that  things such as not being able to get out of bed due to fatigue, low blood pressure or generally feeling ill was due to Addison’s because this is what we were told what he had was called.

His Claims Manager then said, “but Addison’s is not covered on your claim, I need to check with my Medical Advisor.”.  We explained that Addison’s was the other name for Adrenal Insufficiency.

She asked her Medical Advisor for his opinion on the Addison’s.  Well apparently Derek doesn’t  JUST have Addison’s Disease.  What he came back with was:

The “injury” as defined includes:

  • The effects from damage to the adrenal cortex associated with cortisone and aldosterone deficiency known as Addison’s disease  (well we knew that)

  • AND it also includes the effects of damage to the adrenal medulla, a condition that is not included in the definition of Addison’s Disease.

So, Yes, Derek has Adrenal Insufficiency and  it is  Primary, there for he has Addison’s Disease.   BUT because Addison’s only referres to damage to the Adrenal Cortex, which is what is damaged in Autoimmune Addison’s (the most common type), and  because he lost his Medulla as well, it is Beyond Addison’s.

One question frequently asked is “Do patients with Addison’s disease produce adrenaline? Can they get a ‘high’ from bungy-jumping?”
One answer I have found is: Why anyone wants to go bungy-jumping is beyond me but that’s a separate question! For most patients in New Zealand (80-90%), Addison’s disease is due to an auto-immune process that specifically attacks the outer layer of the adrenal gland, leaving the inner layer that produces adrenaline unharmed. Therefore, normal adrenaline responses can be expected in most situations. In any event, a large amount of adrenaline is produced at the nerve endings of our automatic nervous system which is unaffected by Addison’s disease. So you can expect the normal terror of a bungy jump if you dare.

As Adrenal Infarction starts from the inside of the Adrenal Glands, he has lost both his Medulla and Cortex, therefore he won’t get the adrenaline rush from the Adrenal Glands, however, Noradrenaline is produced in the nerve ends as well, so the question is, Will he get the Adrenaline Rush?

He doesn’t see a need to bungy-jump to find out……………………………

Then of course the next question would be, what happens if you don’t have Adrenal Glands and your body gets an adrenaline rush?

I will leave that for a later date to answer.

2 thoughts on “Beyond Addison’s Disease

  1. I find this a very interesting hypothesis and am inclined to watch more unfold. I am in the beginning phase of finally getting diagnosed. A problem has been dragging on and getting worse every year for the last 6 years. Last week, I was found to be Adrenal insufficient. The fatal part scares the crap out of me. And knowing my past occurrences where I got so scared and stressed, I thought I was going to die, like my body was just pumping blood through me and my heart so fast and things get blurry. I need total silence and focus to get through shit. The thing is, when I was well, this was never the case. I could handle any situation with such finesse. So, what is it? Is it adrenaline over load VS cortisol lacking? I really need to be strategic. 36 yr old single mother veteran that just started as a full time student. I can’t afford to get scared to death lol

  2. Mother oh daughter that has this . I. Am slowly learning that if she get very tired and if out one day has to rest the next that she get exhausted very easily. And has to take her medication Also she has to take more thanh the text book dose . Retired nurse and never heard of this illness .The medical and nursing profession has to educated front line worker on this Illness because if in they go into the state of streets ,they sometimes in Emergency Dept Tneir are kept waiting along tint,if ther don,t get the stres medication they can die very quickly .All hospitals and Medical should have this I stock only I their pharmacy to give right away and please don,t keep these patients waiting for the can go into complete Organ Failure.which happened to my daughter before she was properly diagnosed.

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