Addison’s disease is a condition that can happen at any time in a person’s life, including old age.
The disease occurs when the adrenal glands don’t make enough of some of the hormones the body needs, specifically cortisol and aldosterone. When a senior develops the disease, it might be difficult to spot because the symptoms could be mistaken for something else. Knowing the symptoms of Addison’s disease might help your aging relative to get the help they need sooner.
Causes of Addison’s Disease
Addison’s disease happens because of damage to the adrenal glands. There are two adrenal glands in the body. Each of them sits on top of one of the kidneys. They are responsible for producing certain hormones, which in turn deliver instructions to tissues throughout the body. In about 70 percent of Addison’s cases, the damage to the glands is the result of an autoimmune disorder.
Some other things that can damage the adrenal glands are:
- Fungal infections
- Bacterial infections
Addison’s Disease Symptoms
It typically takes months for Addison’s disease to develop. Symptoms appear slowly and increase over time. In fact, the symptoms often aren’t noticed until another medical problem, like an injury, or excessive stress escalates the disease, making symptoms worse. Some possible signs of Addison’s disease are:
- Severe fatigue
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Skin getting darker
- Low blood pressure
- Salt cravings
- Low blood sugar
- Gastrointestinal signs, like nausea or diarrhea
- Pain in the abdomen
- Muscle and/or joint pains
- Loss of body hair
In some cases, the symptoms of Addison’s disease come on quickly and can be severe enough to cause an Addisonian crisis. This is a medical emergency. An Addisonian crisis causes the following symptoms:
- Severe weakness
- Pain in the legs or lower back
- Abnormal confusion
- Terrible abdominal pain accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea
- Delirium or loss of consciousness
- Low blood pressure
- Low sodium and high potassium
If your aging relative is diagnosed with Addison’s disease, elder care can help them to manage the condition and prevent an Addisonian crisis. An elder care provider can remind the older adult to take medications prescribed to keep the disease under control. When the senior is ill, they may need to adjust medications. An elder care provider can help them to follow the doctor’s instructions. Elder care providers can also watch for signs that may indicate an Addisonian crisis. Should one occur, the elder care provider can call 911 to get the older adult the immediate medical care they need.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring a Caregiver in Belmont, CA, call the caring staff at Aviva In-Home Care.
Call today: (415) 795-2203
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