kennedy disease

Hi Tumblr! Have a question for Patrick and Amy Kennedy? 

Patrick and Amy Kennedy have dedicated their lives to improving those of people around the world who are experiencing mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases. 

Patrick Kennedy is a former Congressman and founder of The Kennedy Forum. The Kennedy Forum seeks to provide leadership toward a common vision: improving the lives of individuals living with mental illness and addiction, and promoting behavioral health for all. Amy Kennedy currently serves on the board of Mental Health America, which is focused on giving a voice to all people with mental health conditions and addictions. She is also the education director for The Kennedy Forum. 

Patrick and Amy Kennedy will be answering questions in an Answer Time right here on @postitforward on Friday, 5/26 at 1pm ET / 10am PT

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Addison’s Disease.

Addison’s disease is a rare but known disorder (John Fitzgerald Kennedy suffered from it) and it is also referred to as adrenal insufficiency. Adrenal insufficiency develops when adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone cortisol. This can happen due to a problem within the adrenals (called Addison’s disease or primary adrenal insufficiency) or due to a problem with ACTH, the signal the brain sends to the adrenals instructing them to make cortisol (called secondary adrenal insufficiency).

An important distinction for patients is that people with primary adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease) usually don’t make enough of the hormone aldosterone too; so in addition to taking cortisol replacement, they also need aldosterone replacement. Also, ACTH levels are elevated. People with secondary adrenal insufficiency are only low on cortisol. 

Causes: Primary adrenal insufficiency - the outer layer of the adrenal glands is called the adrenal cortex. If the cortex is damaged, it may not be able to produce enough cortisol. A common cause of primary adrenal insufficiency is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the adrenal gland(s). There are some very rare syndromes (several diseases that occur together) that can cause autoimmune adrenal insufficiency, such as Autoimmune Polyendocrine Syndrome (type 1 or type 2). Other causes include: amyloidosis; bleeding into the adrenal glands; cancer that spreads to the adrenal glands; infections (bacterial, fungal, tuberculosis) of the adrenal glands; surgical removal of the adrenal glands. Secondary adrenal insufficiency - it is caused by a lack of ACTH, made in the pituitary gland. By far the most common cause of this type of adrenal insufficiency is chronic steroid use.

Signs and symptoms

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased pigmentation of the skin, including areas not exposed to the sun (due to high levels of ACTH in primary adrenal insufficiency. This occurs because melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) and ACTH share the same precursor molecule, pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC))
  • Salt craving (due to low levels of aldosterone in primary adrenal insufficiency)
  • Postural Hypotension
  • Depression

Treatment: it involves replacing the cortisol and/or aldosterone that the body is not able to produce, or that it secretes in an insufficient quantity. Cortisol is replaced with an oral synthetic glucocorticoid. The drug is taken one or two times each day. Aldosterone is replaced with an oral mineralcorticoid.

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