For those who suffer from Addison’s disease, getting a correct diagnosis, treatment, and then living with the condition can be very challenging. Indeed, symptoms can sometimes be very limiting, and healthcare treatment is required for Addison’s disease for life. If you have been diagnosed with Addison’s disease and require home healthcare services, these services may be available to you under the EEOICPA/RECA program. At United Healthcare Energy Workers, we offer home healthcare services at no cost to patients. Reach out to us today to learn more.
What Is Addison’s Disease?
One of the rarest conditions that there is, Addison’s disease is characterized by the body’s adrenal glands being unable to produce enough of certain kinds of hormones, usually aldosterone and cortisol. While most people who are suffering from the condition in the U.S. get the treatment that they need, it can be life-threatening.
What Are the Symptoms of Addison’s Disease?
One of the complicated things about Addison’s disease is that it can be very difficult to diagnose. This is because symptoms usually set in over a number of weeks or months, and because many of these symptoms might feel “normal,” especially to a person who is overworked or under a lot of stress. According to the Mayo Clinic (2018), symptoms of Addison’s disease include:
- Serious fatigue;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Craving salt;
- Low blood sugar;
- Gastrointestinal upset;
- Behavioral changes;
- Hair loss and sexual dysfunction (women);
- Pain in the abdominal region;
- Joint pain; and
- Darkening of the skin.
If the disease progresses without treatment, acute adrenal failure may occur. If this happens, symptoms will be more severe, and may include confusion, severe abdominal pain, delirium, and severe weakness.
What Causes Addison’s Disease and Who’s at Risk?
When the adrenal glands are damaged, Addison’s disease can result. When this happens, the adrenal glands will not produce enough of essential hormones, including cortisol. In addition to cortisol, the adrenal glands also produce other corticosteroids that are essential for wellbeing and function, including glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, and androgens.
Why the adrenal glands may suffer damage and stop producing necessary hormones varies on a case-by-case basis. For some people, Addison’s disease is an autoimmune condition. For others, however, the condition is the result of an infection of the adrenal glands, tuberculosis, cancer spread to the adrenal glands, or bleeding into the adrenal glands. Temporary adrenal failure can result from taking corticosteroids, which are often prescribed to treat conditions like asthma and arthritis.
Anyone can be diagnosed with Addison’s disease. It affects both men and women, as well as people of varying ages.
How Is Addison’s Disease Treated?
According to the Cleveland Clinic (2019), Addison’s disease treatment involves hormone replacement therapy. The purpose of this therapy is to provide your body with the hormones–artificially–that it would produce naturally if the adrenal gland was functioning as intended. In addition to taking replacement hormones, a person who is suffering from Addison’s disease will also be recommended to maintain a high-salt diet, and to ensure that sodium levels are maintained when it’s hot outside, after losing sweat in a workout, or after any gastrointestinal upset (e.g. vomiting). In addition, regular check-ups with a doctor, as well as maintaining good health otherwise, can help to manage life with this disease.
Living with Addison’s Post-Diagnosis
Living with Addison’s disease can be challenging, and often means learning to live with symptoms that can be less-than-pleasant, and even debilitating in some cases. Having a plan of action in case you forget to take your medicine is always wise. Because things like stress or illness can affect your condition, it’s wise to talk to your doctor about how to manage Addison’s if you experience a major life stress. It’s important that you follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan if you’ve been diagnosed. While you will need to take medicine for the rest of your life, usually, this is a disease that is manageable and still allows a patient to enjoy a high-quality life.
Do I Qualify for Free Home Healthcare Services?
If you have been diagnosed with Addison’s disease and require in-home healthcare, you may qualify for free home healthcare services. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we offer high-quality home health services at no cost to patients – the United States Department of Labor pays for services for covered conditions under the EEOICPA/RECA program. If you have questions about whether or not you qualify, please call our team today. We are here to help you understand your right to home healthcare services.
Mayo Clinic. (2018, November 10). Addison’s disease. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350293
Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Addison’s disease: management and treatment. Retrieved from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15095-addisons-disease/management-and-treatment