Preparing your own Emergency Kit for Addison's or Adrenal Insufficiency

Preparing an emergency kit is something every person with Addison's or Adrenal Insufficiency should do once they have a diagnosis. We explain more about the different kinds of injection, when to use your kit and how to use your injection on our Emergency injection page.

Kits are sometimes provided ready-made by medics and can also be purchased online. Here we help you create your own emergency kit in seven steps.

1. Request emergency vials of hydrocortisone from your medics

In the UK and ROI, our emergency medication must be prescribed by a healthcare professional. Ask your endocrinologist or GP for these. Injectable hydrocortisone comes as a powder (that requires mixing) (Solu-Cortef) or a liquid (Hydrocortisone Sodium Phosphate If you experience any difficulties obtaining medication, see our helpful tips for working with medics.

What to do if you are refused an emergency kit:

If your GP or Endocrinologist does not wish to provide additional prescriptions to provide the above cover, please print and provide them with the below documents as a guide and politely ask again. Provision of a hydrocortisone emergency injection kit is the advice given by the ADSHG Clinical Advisory Panel and Society for Endocrinology, for the prevention of an acute adrenal crisis.

If you or UK or ROI based, please also provide details of this refusal to us and we will ensure that the surgery or endocrine unit receive some of our advice and materials ls to help raise awareness.

2. Check if you need water vials

If you receive the powder version of hydrocortisone, ensure you also have water for injection to mix with the powder. Request vials of water if you are using a dry form of hydrocortisone. Ask your endocrinologist or GP for these if not supplied with the powder. Again, if you experience any difficulties obtaining medication, see our helpful tips for working with medics.

3. Request syringes from your medics

Ask your endocrinologist or GP for these. There are several types available. Ask your medics about the options and which will be best for you. Syringes can be purchased from many reputable pharmacies in the UK - in their stores and online. The subcutaneous needle needs to be 1 inch long and the syringe needs to be able to hold 3ml of liquid.

4. Printed injection instructions

Having the instructions for your injection kit helps you, or anyone coming to your aid, to inject you. We have a selection of guides you can print, fold and add to your kit. Be careful to choose instructions that match the type of medication you have available.

View our range of emergency injection instruction leaflets

It is also advisable to include adrenal crisis guidelines, hospital stickers and NHS steroid emergency card in the box. 

5. Protection when you are opening glass vials

You'll see from our videos and advice  that snapping the tops off the glass vials can be made easier with 'Amp Snaps' that can be purchased online and are included with the charity injection kits. Some people also use a piece of clean gauze, a clean tissue or place the top of the vial inside the plastic part of the syringe wrapper. 

6. Choose a sturdy, portable box or case for your kit

Everybody's different, as we often say. Some of us carry a handbag and need something small and compact. Others like a larger container so they can add extra items like extra tablets or extra information. The main thing is that it must be portable. When we ask members about their kits, they tell us how they've found just the right container - a small camera case, a pencil box, a nice plastic storage box. The choice is yours.  Having the expiry date taped to the container is a good way of reminding yourself of the expiry dates of medication.  All items including syringes and needles, will have an expiry date, note the shortest item date.  This allows for items to be checked regularly.

7. Consider having more than one kit.

You need to have your emergency kit on hand wherever you are. At home. At work. In the car. You might need your carer or family to have one they can access. Emergencies can happen anywhere. Consider having your kit and and medication by your bedside at night within reach. Being prepared can mean that if for any reason you can't get to medical help straight away you can take action to treat an adrenal crisis.  Ensure your family/friends/carers know where you keep your kit and know how to use it.

Kits like these save lives every day. Why not get started on your own kit today?