Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Adrenal Insufficiency Home Care

Home care for Addison's disease includes:

  • Wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace.
    • Label should read: Takes daily cortisone for Addison's disease
  • Carry a cortisol injection kit for emergencies.
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Adrenal Insufficiency Anorexia

Many patients with Addison's disease will suffer from anorexia.

Anorexia means a loss of appetite. Anorexia is a persistent problem with many chronic diseases. It is also a common side effect of many medications used to treat chronic disease.

Good nutrition is an important part of a successful treatment program. Home care for anorexia includes:

  • Avoid stomach irritants such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine and other stimulants.
  • Check with your doctor about drinking alcohol.
  • Do not force yourself to eat at standard times. Eat when you are hungry instead.
  • Concentrate on eating a healthy diet. Avoid junk foods.
  • Select healthy, high-calorie foods that you enjoy.
  • Eat more frequent, smaller meals.
  • Get some exercise every day.
  • Keep a daily log of your weight.
  • Don't smoke. Nicotine can suppress the appetite.
  • Ask your doctor or nutritionist about dietary supplements.
  • Ask your doctor if any medications you may be taking can cause anorexia.
  • Take any prescribed medications as directed.
  • Anti-nausea medications:
  • Appetite stimulants:

Adrenal Insufficiency Constipation

General measures for constipation in someone with Addison's disease include:

  • Avoid foods that seem to give you constipation. Some cheeses, white flour, and white rice can trigger constipation.
  • Avoid straining on the toilet, this can cause hemorrhoids and complicate things further.
  • Don't ignore the urge to move your bowels; this can throw off your schedule and cause you problems.
  • Drink more water.
  • Eat more fiber.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Try mild caffeine containing beverages. These often have a mild laxative effect.

Fiber helps prevent constipation by increasing the amount of stool in your colon (large intestine). The most well known fiber is bran. Common fiber supplements include Citrucel and Metamucil. Regular use of these high-fiber products is safe. They are also more effective when used regularly. Drink plenty of water when taking extra fiber.

Dietary fiber is a plant material that humans cannot digest. Fiber is made of large carbohydrate molecules that pass through the intestinal tract without being used by the body.

Fiber comes in two forms, based on whether it will dissolve in water. These are called soluble and insoluble fiber. Most experts believe that about 3/4 of fiber intake should be the insoluble form.

General Guidelines
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are high in fiber. Check food labels of prepared products to see if there are at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Look for the term 'whole grain' as a major part of the food.

Raw foods tend to have more fiber than cooked, canned or pureed items. Even chopping and peeling skins removes some fiber. Dried fruits are especially high in fiber. Beans, black-eyed peas, brans and oatmeal are very high in fiber.

Unprocessed wheat bran can be added to many home meals and most baked foods. Bran is the outer layer of the wheat grain, and is present in 'whole grain' foods. Adding 2-3 teaspoons of bran per serving is a great way to increase the fiber content of casseroles, meat loaf, and baked goods. Whole grain flour has 6 times the fiber of standard, bleached flour. Oat bran can be used in place of about 1/3 of regular flour when baking.

Try adding nuts or bran to dairy foods such as yogurt or cottage cheese, which normally have very little fiber. Avoid white bread and flour pasta.

Change your diet slowly and drink plenty of fluids to allow the fiber to do its work. Rapid changes in the diet can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. A varied, high-fiber diet is much better than taking fiber supplements.

Adrenal Insufficiency Diarrhea

Home treatment for diarrhea in someone with Addison's disease includes hydration and dietary therapy.

Hydration
Those who are able to drink liquids can restore lost water and salt with oral rehydration therapy (ORT).

  • Oral rehydration therapy for older children and adults:
    • Drink clear liquids only, such as water, sports drinks (best), fruit juice and dilute tea.
    • Drink small quantities of fluids frequently, such as 2 tablespoons of fluid every 5 minutes.
    • The absence of food allows the intestines to rest.
    • May be able to advance to full liquid diet once symptoms improve
    • Effective to treat mild to moderate dehydration

ORT fluids are usually used in children, but are also effective for adults. These include:
  • Infalyte
  • Lytren
  • Naturalyte
  • Pedialyte
  • Rehydralyte
  • ReVital
  • Generic drugstore brands

Dietary Therapy
ORT is most important if you have vomiting with the diarrhea. Once vomiting and nausea resolves, eat bland foods first. If you tolerate bland food, then you can resume a normal diet.

Foods that may help diarrhea:
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Strained carrots
  • Wheat
  • Yogurt

Items that may worsen diarrhea include:
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Concentrated fruit juices
  • High-sugar foods (junk food)
  • Cow's milk
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar substitutes

Adrenal Insufficiency Warning Signs

Notify your doctor for if you have Addison's disease and any of the following:

Continue to Adrenal Insufficiency Complications

Last Updated: Nov 29, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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