Endocrine System Home > Addisonian Crisis Information

Most people with Addison's disease have relatively healthy lives and can expect a normal lifespan. However, at times, the adrenal insufficiency caused by this condition can become acute, leading to what is called an addisonian crisis. This is a potentially life-threatening emergency.
The symptoms of an addisonian crisis can include:
  • Sudden, penetrating pain in the lower back, abdomen (stomach), or legs
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness.
Treatment typically involves intravenous injections of hydrocortisone, salt water, and sugar. Ways to prevent an addisonian crisis, while not foolproof, include carrying a needle, syringe, and an injectable form of cortisol in case of emergencies and knowing how to increase your medication doses during times of stress or mild upper respiratory infections.
(Click Addisonian Crisis for more information on what triggers this condition, other ways to prevent it, and how it relates to Addison's disease.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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