Friday, October 10, 2008

Fighting Illness and the "Adrenal Factor"

This past week I have been pretty sick with a sinus infection and some sort of virus. I'm not surprised given the stresses of the move, both physical and emotional, that my body would react by lowering its defenses and allowing a bug to take over. What is particularly annoying to me is that due to my adrenal insufficiency, it is harder for me to fight off infections or viruses, and I have to be extremely careful about maintaining my cortisol level, which affects my electrolytes, and giving my body the rest and nutrition it needs to heal.

Another thing I have to do is increase the daily amount of hydrocortisone I take, bumping up to what is called a "stress dose". I have to do this whenever I am under physical or emotional stress, to prevent severe, life-threatening complications from a drop in sodium, potassium or other important electrolytes. Of course the extra steriods produce their own set of problems, but it is all part of living with an adrenal insufficiency. Unfortunately, since the condition is so rare, there are even doctors who don't seem to get the importance of it. Luckily, I have a good endocrinologist as well as internist, who monitor me closely, but I have had problems even during past hospitalizations with getting the proper doses of medications for my situation.

I have learned to take things like this in stride, but it is another reminder that I have a body that acts differently than most, at times the fatigue makes it hard to get out of bed and the nausea and diarrhea contribute to the chance of dehydration. I am grateful that I became aware of my problem before I went into adrenal failure or shock, but I wish there were more known about this condition, and that more doctors understood the importance of keeping track of it along with my the many other things I deal with, especially when they seem minor, like a slight infection or a virus, which for someone else is usually the least of their worries.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

Hi Maureen, What a complex situation. To already be chronically ill, then when a virus hits, to make sure you're taking the necessary array of meds. to keep you out of the hospital...sounds exhausting.

I hope you are beginning to feel better and that your adrenal insuffiency flare (as well as reaction to steroids) are keeping to a minimum.

Sending thoughts and wishes that you are feeling as good as possible soon. Please keep us us posted about how your are doing. Kerry