How is Addison’s disease treated?
Treatment of Addison’s disease involves therapy to replace the hormones that are not being produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is replaced with tablets containing a synthetic steroid called hydrocortisone (Cortef), prednisone, or dexamethasone. If there is also a deficiency of aldosterone, tablets containing another steroid such as fludrocortisone acetate can be given. Doctors also recommend that patients receiving aldosterone replacement therapy increase their salt intake.

People with Addison’s disease should always carry some identification stating their medical condition so that a cortisol injection can be given in an emergency. Some people wear a bracelet or neck chain containing relevant information. When traveling, it is advisable for those with Addison’s disease to carry an emergency syringe and an injectable form of cortisol. 

Increase your medication for Addison’s disease during periods of stress or mild respiratory infections to prevent complications of the disease. If severe infections occur, or if diarrhea and vomiting occur (meaning that the oral tablets are not being absorbed properly), medical attention must be sought promptly.

Further Information
National Adrenal Diseases Foundation: http://www.nadf.us/diseases/addisons.htm
National Institutes of Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001416/National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service: http://endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/addison/addison.aspx

Last Reviewed: May 2013