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What is an Addisonian crisis?

William D. Knopf, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Because the symptoms of Addison's disease progress slowly, they are often ignored until a stressful event like an illness or an accident causes them to worsen. Sudden, severe worsening of symptoms is called an Addisonian crisis, or acute adrenal insufficiency. In most cases, the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency become serious enough that people seek medical treatment before a crisis occurs. However, sometimes, symptoms first appear during an Addisonian crisis.
This answer is based upon source information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.

An Addisonian crisis, also called acute adrenal insufficiency, is a medical emergency that happens if Addison's disease is left untreated. The crisis involves a sudden worsening of symptoms and is usually brought on by some kind of illness, accident, or other stressful event. During the crisis, blood pressure and blood sugar levels drop, and potassium levels in the blood are extremely high. Symptoms may include sudden pain in the legs, stomach, and lower back; severe vomiting and diarrhea; and loss of consciousness. An Addisonian crisis can be life-threatening if a person doesn't get immediate medical attention.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.