Addison’s Disease (Pediatric)

Your child has been diagnosed with Addison’s disease. This occurs when the adrenal glands don’t make enough of the hormone cortisol or, in some cases, enough of the hormone aldosterone. The disease is also called adrenal insufficiency or hypocortisolism. A complication of this disease is called an addisonian crisis. Here’s what you need to know about home care.

General home care

  • Make sure your child takes all medications exactly as directed by your doctor. Your child will need to take replacement hormones for the rest of his or her life.

  • Carry a steroid injection kit for emergencies as directed by your doctor. Your child will need an emergency steroid (hydrocortison) shot whenever he or she is vomiting, unable to drink, or experiences an accident. The steroid dose needs to be doubled or tripled if he or she is injured or becomes seriously ill. Ask your doctor about when and why your child would need a double or triple dose of steroid. Make sure your doctor gives you clear writeen instructions on how to give the extra hydrocortisone for stress

  • Get your child a medical identification bracelet that says, “Addison’s disease: takes steroid daily.” Make sure your child wears the bracelet at all times. Consider attaching the tag on a sturdier chain than the one it came with. If your child tends to wear the tag in another manner, you can try the tag on a necklace, anklet, or even as a belt charm, if it will help your child to consistently wear it.

  • Be sure to tell all your child’s healthcare providers (including dentists, surgeons, and specialists) that your child has been diagnosed with Addison’s disease. Your child’s steroid dose will need to be increased prior to any procedures.

  • Do not limit your child’s salt intake. Examples of salty foods are canned soups and potato chips.

How to prevent an addisonian crisis

Addision crisis can occur if your child receives inadequate steroid during stress or becomes significantly dehydrated.

  • Make sure your child takes his or her medication, as directed

  • Make sure your child drinks enough fluids. Don’t let your child become dehydrated.

  • Keep your child away from large crowds during cold and flu season.

  • Teach your child good hygiene, such as proper handwashing.

  • Keep your child’s vaccinations up to date. Get your child the flu shot (vaccine) every year.

Follow-up care

  • Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

  • Keep regular follow-up appointments with your child’s doctor or pediatric endocrinologist (hormone specialist).

The resource below can help you learn more:

Hormone Health Network at 800-467-6663 or

When to call your child’s doctor

Call the doctor right away if your child has any of the following:

  • Fatigue or weakness

  • Loss of appetite or weight loss

  • Dizziness when standing up after sitting or lying down

  • Muscle aches

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

  • Sharp pain in the lower back, abdomen, or legs

  • Any infection


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