4 Things to know to help a friend living with Addison’s Disease

Addison’s Disease is a rare autoimmune condition which attacks the adrenal glands and causes insufficient production of aldosterone and the stress hormone cortisol. 

This then results in problems regulating salt and water in the body, blood pressure, and metabolism as well as difficulty managing stress. 

This disease can also cause a life-threatening situation called Addisonian crisis or Adrenal crisis. 

Being a rare disease, not many people know about Addison’s Disease. But if you have a friend dealing with this condition, it is very important to learn about it so that you can help them especially during an emergency.

Below are some of the things that would be good to know about to help a friend living with Addison’s Disease.

1. Living with a chronic illness requires lifestyle changes

Many patients can live an active life when they are able to find the treatment suitable for them. However, it should be kept in mind that they need to ensure a lot of things to properly manage their disease even if they seem to be living normal lives. 

Some of these things include avoiding stress triggers and too much exercise. They also need to ensure that they eat a proper diet to stay healthy and avoid getting sick. Keep in mind that for people with Addison’s, having common illnesses like diarrhea could trigger an Addisonian crisis.

So even if your friend seems to have a normal life, try to understand that there are certain things that they would still try to avoid. You might have been used to staying out late or trying out strenuous activities before their diagnosis but can no longer do so. Just understand that there are just changes that they have to deal with to manage their disease.

2. Responding in case of Addisonian crisis

For people living with Addison’s Disease, there is always a possibility of suffering from Addisonian crisis, which can be life-threatening. Such episodes can be triggered by stress or common illnesses such as diarrhea. 

In such cases, the patient would require hydrocortisone injection at once and would need to be brought to the hospital.  

As a friend of someone with Addison’s disease, it is extremely necessary to be informed about what to do in case this happens. Read reliable sources and ask your friend everything that you should know in advance so that you can help save your friend’s life in case of an emergency. 

3. Taking safety precautions when traveling

In case you would be traveling with your friend, keep in mind that traveling with Addison’s disease would require extra precautions as compared with not having an autoimmune illness.

For instance, access to a good hospital might affect your itinerary and your friend might have to avoid places that are very far from the city proper where cellphone reception could be a problem. They might also need to be careful when choosing a place to eat since having diarrhea can trigger a crisis. Factor these in when planning your trip. 

Also, make sure to ask your friend questions before your travel such as where they keep their steroid injection and medical I.D. and other information you should know in advance.

4. Listening to your friend can mean a lot 

Having a chronic illness can alter a person’s life. It could mean having to live life differently from the way they are used to. In the case of patients with Addison’s disease, they now have to take a lot of precaution to avoid having Addisonian crisis, or ensure that they have access to a capable hospital in case needed. 

But the changes in their life are not only limited to preventing life-threatening scenarios. Sure, medications help many patients live a relatively normal life. But even the fact that they have to take medicine at certain times of the day, or that they always need to assess themselves can at times be daunting. 

In case your friend talks to you about these things, it would be great if you could lend an ear. It might be tempting to ask them to look at the brighter side, but this can make people feel even worse sometimes since it somehow invalidates what they feel. Just by simply being there to listen is already a huge help.


Living with an autoimmune disease like Addison’s can have a huge impact on a person’s life.  However, with the help of appropriate medications and proper management techniques, patients can live an active life. 

Having people by their side who are willing to learn about the effects of this condition and ways to help patients can definitely make dealing with Addison’s Disease much easier. 


—–Ben’s Friends is a network of safe and supportive online communities for individuals affected by a rare disease or chronic condition. Our Living with Addison’s Patients Support Community aims to provide online support to people affected by Addison’s Disease. If you think you would benefit from our community, we invite you to sign up here.