For patients with Addison's disease, daily medication is taken to replace the lost hormones. This should help you to live an active life, although many people find they still need to manage their fatigue.
In some cases, the underlying causes of Addison's disease can be treated. For example, tuberculosis (TB) is treated with a course of antibiotics over a period of at least 6 months.
However, most cases are caused by a problem with the immune system that cannot be cured.
Treatment for Addison's disease involves medication in the form of hormone replacement therapy to correct the levels of steroid hormones your body isn't producing. Some options for treatment include oral corticosteroids such as:
Hydrocortisone (Cortef), prednisone or methylprednisolone to replace cortisol. These hormones are given on a schedule to mimic the normal 24-hour fluctuation of cortisol levels.
Fludrocortisone acetate to replace aldosterone.
You will need to get plenty of salt (sodium) in your diet, especially during heavy exercise, when the weather is hot or if you have gastrointestinal upsets, such as diarrhoea.
Your doctor will also suggest a temporary increase in your medication dosage if your body is stressed, such as from an operation, an infection or a minor illness. If you're ill with vomiting and can't keep down oral medications, you may need injections of corticosteroids.
Other treatment may include:
Carry a medical alert card and bracelet at all times. A steroid emergency card and medical alert identification will let emergency medical personnel know what kind of care you need.
Stay in contact with your doctor. Keep an ongoing relationship with your doctor to make sure that the doses of replacement hormones are adequate, but not excessive. If you're having ongoing problems with your medications, you may need adjustments in the doses or timing of the medications.
Have annual checkups. See your doctor or an endocrinology specialist at least once a year. Your doctor may recommend annual screening for a number of autoimmune diseases.
Treatment for an Addisonian crisis, which is a medical emergency, typically includes intravenous injections of: