Addison’s disease is a rare condition that results in insufficient production of hormones by the adrenal glands. It is primarily treated with the use of glucocorticoids like hydrocortisone, which helps restore normal production of cortisol. If the disease goes undetected for a long time, it may take an accident or illness to become aware of the disease. When this happens it is referred to as an Addisonian crisis and is considered a serious emergency. Treatments are available from a compounding pharmacy with multiple ingredients for increasing hormone levels and reducing fatigue caused by the disease.
What is Addison’s Disease?
Addison’s disease, also called primary adrenal insufficiency, leads to insufficient production of cortisol from the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and produce cortisol along with other hormones. Addison’s disease is most often the result of an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the adrenal glands and slow hormone production. Infections, tuberculosis, and cancer that spreads to the adrenal glands can all lead to Addison’s disease.
Cortisol is a hormone that is often associated with the stress response; however it has many other functions in the body. Most cells have receptors for cortisol and the hormone is associated with metabolism, inflammation, and blood pressure. It helps balance insulin and maintains cardiovascular functioning and also helps with fetal development during pregnancy. When the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol it can have a number of negative effects on the body.
What are Symptoms of Addison’s Disease?
Some of the symptoms of Addison’s disease may include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Muscle loss
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Mood swings, depression
- Low blood pressure
- Abnormal blood sugar levels
- Craving for salty foods
- Skin changes like blotchiness, freckles, and dark patches of skin
What Treatments are Available from a Compounding Pharmacy?
The primary medication used for treating Addison’s disease is hydrocortisone. Other steroids like fludrocortisone may also be used for increasing levels of other hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands. At Woodland Hills Pharmacy, we provide hydrocortisone capsules in multiple strengths for increasing cortisol. We also compound a formulation, sometimes called a “Spark Capsule,” which includes hydrocortisone, caffeine, and theobromine. This combination both increases cortisol levels and reduces fatigue, which is one of the most common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency. Besides increasing alertness, caffeine has been shown to increase production of cortisol. Theobromine is found in chocolate and is another stimulant that may help combat some of the symptoms of Addison’s disease.
A compounding pharmacy can provide formulations with combinations of ingredients that are not commercially available. Hydrocortisone is sometimes made into an oral solution but most often we combine it with other ingredients in capsules. Some examples of hydrocortisone capsule formulations for adrenal insufficiency include:
- Hydrocortisone 5mg, Caffeine 50mg, Theobromine 20mg
- Hydrocortisone 20mg, Caffeine 60mg, Theobromine 44mg
Working with a compounding pharmacist, formulations can be adjusted based on unique situations that require increased dosages like illness or certain medical procedures. Any dosage or combination of ingredients can be made when hydrocortisone capsules are obtained from a compounding pharmacy.
Long-Term Management of Addison’s Disease
Similar to treatment for hypothyroidism, treatment for Addison’s disease needs to be continued throughout a person’s life, as there is currently no cure for the condition. Long-term use of a supplement with hydrocortisone to increase cortisol levels can usually provide relief from symptoms and allow individuals with the disease to live normally. Working with a compounding pharmacy, endocrinologists and patients suffering from Addison’s disease can obtain treatments that are not available commercially in dosages customized to their needs.