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Megan Johnson McCullough. Photo by Sonja Hults
ColumnsLifestyles of the Fit and Healthy

Rare Disorders: Stevens-Johnsons syndrome and Addison’s disease

Our bodies are fascinating, resilient machines that make life possible for us. Equipped with quite the arsenal, every second of the day, bodily functions are taking place. But sometimes out of the blue, the slightest glitch causes disruption requiring medical attention.

Test after test, blood work after blood work panel, there seems to be no clear answer until finally when all possibilities have been ruled out, a rare disorder is diagnosed. Such is the case with Stevens-Johnsons syndrome and Addison’s disease. My very best friend and close client have been diagnosed and I felt compelled to research more for any BODY who can relate and feels isolated by these conditions.

Stevens-Johnsons syndrome is a very serious skin disorder marked by a painful red/purple rash that continues to spread and even develops blisters. The rash is typically found near the mouth, nose, eyes, and genitals. This rash basically develops out of no-where. A person might feel like they have the flu, their eyes are burning, fevers and coughing persist, and chronic fatigue sets in. Typically, this is the result of a reaction to a medication.

Certain medications for mental illness, gout, anticonvulsants (seizures), pain relievers even like Tylenol, and penicillin, can spark this rash. A week immune system or having the gene, HLA-B 1502, are also causes. For those who suffer from the disease, it is difficult to come to terms with the side effects that cause hair loss, as well as fingernail and toenail loss. Treatment includes pain medications and antibiotics. Gone untreated, this disease can lead to hospitalization, sepsis, eye problems, and permanent skin damage.

Addison’s disease occurs when the adrenal glands are not properly producing certain hormones, specifically cortisol and aldosterone (conserves sodium in the body). Symptoms include extreme fatigue, hyperpigmentation (darkening of the siujkin), cravings for salt, weight loss, gastrointesitinal problems, and abdominal, muscle, and joint pain. The outer layer of the adrenal gland is damaged and the body for unknown reasons decides it should destroy the cortex (out layer).

The body is basically attacking itself by failing to produce these hormones, which equates to this being an autoimmune disease. Treatment includes hormone replacement therapy including corticosteroids taken orally or by injection. Making sure the body has enough sodium is also important. Another interesting fact is that Addison’s disease also occurs in dogs.

The Lifestyle of the FIT & Healthy values their health, never taking for granted this hard-working machine we own. Unexpected twists and turns occur both physically and emotionally, so we must embrace the body we are given, work on becoming our best self, and be grateful to rise and shine to each day.