Addison’s disease is a chronic disease caused by hypofunction and atrophy of the adrenal cortex and is manifested by reduced secretion of mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids. Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism) is a serious condition in which the adrenal gland does not produce enough cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol is a corticosteroid that helps in the fight against stress, gives energy, and maintains a healthy structure of the immune system. Aldosterone is responsible for blood pressure control, maintains it at the required level, and ensures normal kidney function.
The most common cause of Addison’s disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body begins to attack its cells and tissues. When the immune system begins to act in that way, it can halt or reduce the production of hormones in the adrenal gland. The adrenal gland may stop working when the body does not have enough ACTH hormone produced by the pituitary gland. Addison’s disease is more common in females than in males. It is rare in cats.
The most common symptoms are apathy, general weakness, trembling, vomiting, diarrhea that can be bloody, polydipsia (increased thirst), increased urination, dehydration, and hypothermia. Typical findings of this disease are hypotension, tachycardia, hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, and hyperkalemia. An increased level of urea and creatinine may occur, so kidney insufficiency may be considered in a differential diagnosis.
Diagnosis is based on blood analyses. It is important to determine the amount of the ACTH hormone present.
Treatment involves an intravenous infusion application to compensate for fluid and electrolytes. Glucocorticoids are used in order to prevent shock. During the treatment of Addison’s disease, it is necessary to compensate for low corticosteroids.
Prognosis depends on the degree of adrenal gland hypofunction.
Administer drugs as prescribed. Contact the veterinarian if the general condition of your pet worsens.