Often a clinical examination provides us with no further
clues as to the diagnosis and we will have to resort to
further investigative techniques. General health blood profiles
are usually the first step and gave us our first clue with
Waste products normally disposed of by the kidneys were
higher than normal but further examination of the urine
suggested that the kidneys were not at fault. These findings
allowed us to treat Tina with supportive intravenous fluids
whilst waiting for further blood results from the laboratory.
It was when these results were returned, demonstrating
abnormal levels of sodium and potassium in the bloodstream,
that gave us our breakthrough. Tina appeared to be suffering
from Addisons disease.A further dynamic bloodtest confirmed
this to be the case.
Interestingly, this disease is also found in humans and
can be notoriously difficult to diagnose. This condition
is caused by destruction of the adrenal gland causing a
deficiency of both glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids.
These naturally occurring chemicals are often referred
to as "steroids". While most people appear to
know that too many "steroids" can be harmful what
is less widely appreciated is that we need to produce steady
low levels of these drugs to survive.
Fortunately, the treatment of this condition is very straightforward.
Replace the steroids that Tina is not producing with a daily
tablet and she will live a full and active life. "Getting
diagnosed" is definitely the hardest part of this disease!
Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS