Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is a disorder that occurs when your body does not produce sufficient levels of cortisol and often aldosterone from your adrenal glands. Addison’s disease, if left untreated, can be life threatening. This improper creation of hormones is caused by damage to the adrenal glands located just above the kidneys. This can occur when the cortex is damaged and is unable to produce hormones in adequate quantities (primary adrenal insufficiency) or when the pituitary gland is diseased (secondary adrenal insufficiency). The pituitary gland creates a adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which stimulates the adrenal cortex to produce its hormones. When the pituitary gland is diseased the adrenal glands are not signaled to produce enough hormones even though they are not directly damaged.

Symptoms include extreme fatigue, weight loss, hyperpigmentation, low blood pressure, salt cravings, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle or joint pain, irritability, depression, and body har loss or sexual dysfunction in women.

These symptoms, when they appear suddenly, are signs of Addisonian crisis or acute adrenal failure. This can be provoked by physical stress such as injury, infection, or illness.


Addison’s Disease. Mayo Clinic,

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