We present a case of rapidly progressing Addison's disease in adrenal crisis with severe hyponatraemia and absence of hyperkalaemia in a 10-year-old girl. She presented with 2 weeks of vomiting, fatigue and weight loss. Her serum electrolytes obtained 1 week prior to presentation were normal, except for mild hyponatraemia at 131 mmol/L, which dropped to 112 mmol/L on admission. She had normal serum potassium, low-serum osmolality, with elevated urine sodium and osmolality, indistinguishable from syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH). Subsequently, Addison's disease was diagnosed on the basis of gingival hyperpigmentation and undetectable cortisol on adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulation test. She rapidly responded to stress dose hydrocortisone, followed by hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone replacement therapy. The absence of hyperkalaemia in the presence of severe hyponatraemia cannot rule out Addison's disease in children. The mechanism of hypo-osmolar hyponatraemia in primary adrenal insufficiency and clinical clues to differentiate it from SIADH are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Case Reports
StatePublished - May 28 2015


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