Addison’s Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)

Regarding [#Pet Name], here is some information about Addison’s Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)

Addison’s Disease is a condition resulting in the insufficient production of vital adrenal gland hormones (cortisol and aldosterone). Since these hormones are essential for life, this is an extremely serious disease and must be treated as such.

Primary Addison’s Disease is thought to be caused by an aberration of the immune system causing damage to the adrenal gland.
Secondary Addison’s Disease is usually the result of the toxic side effects of other medications (especially medications used to treat Cushing’s Disease) on the adrenal glands.

Most pets show signs of gastrointestinal disturbance (vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite). Lethargy is commonly seen in pets affected with this condition.

Blood tests commonly show an elevation of the serum Potassium level in relation to the Sodium level.
Chest Radiographs may reveal a smaller than normal sized heart shadow.
Definitive diagnosis is made with a special blood test called an ACTH Stimulation Test.

Pets that present in a crisis from this condition require aggressive therapy with intravenous fluids, intravenous glucocorticoids, and correction of acid base balance.

Lifetime maintenance of hormone supplements are required to prevent crisis.

The commonly used drugs for Addison’s treatment are:

  • Percorten (DOCP) injections monthly.
  • Prednisone tablets given daily.

Other Information:
Periodic blood tests are recommended to be sure the treatment is working and to determine the most appropriate dosages. Stress may exacerbate the condition and may affect dosing. With proper attention by the pet owner and the veterinarian, pets with Addison’s Disease can live relatively normal lives.

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