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Home :: Endocrine Disorders

Addison's Disease


Addisons Disease
Cushings Disease
Graves Disease

Addison's Disease is primarily a deficiency of hormones produced by the adrenal glands. There is increased excretion of salt. In Addison's disease, your adrenal glands produce too little cortisol, which is one of the hormones in a group called the glucocorticoids. It helps maintain blood pressure and water and salt balance in the body by helping the kidney retain sodium and excrete potassium. When aldosterone production falls too low, the kidneys are not able to regulate salt and water balance, causing blood volume and blood pressure to drop. Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone cortisol and, in some cases, the hormone aldosterone.Treatment for Addison's disease involves taking hormones to replace the insufficient amounts being made by your adrenal glands.

Addison's disease is a hormone deficiency (not enough hormone) caused by damage to the outer layer of the adrenal gland (the part known as the adrenal cortex). These glands are part of your endocrine system, and they produce hormones that give instructions to virtually every organ and tissue in your body. The condition was first described by British physician Thomas Addison in his 1855 publication, On the Constitutional and Local Effects of Disease of the Suprarenal Capsules . Cortisol mobilizes nutrients, modifies the body's response to inflammation, stimulates the liver to raise the blood sugar, and also helps to control the amount of water in the body. Aldosterone regulates salt and water levels which affects blood volume and blood pressure. Cortisol production is regulated by another hormone, adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), made in the pituitary gland which is located just below the brain. Because cortisol is so vital to health, the amount of cortisol produced by the adrenals is precisely balanced. Like many other hormones, cortisol is regulated by the brain's hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, a bean-sized organ at the base of the brain. First, the hypothalamus sends "releasing hormones" to the pituitary gland.

Addison's disease is an endocrine or hormonal disorder that occurs in all age groups and afflicts men and women equally. The inner part of the adrenal ( called the medulla ) produces epinephrine ( also called adrenaline ) which is produced at times of stress and helps the body respond to "fight or flight" situations by raising the pulse rate, adjusting blood flow, and raising blood sugar.Addison's disease (also known as chronic adrenal insufficiency , or hypocortisolism ) is a rare endocrine disorder which results in the body not producing sufficient amounts of certain adrenal hormones Sometimes, Addison's disease also involves insufficient production of aldosterone, one of the mineralocorticoid hormones. It belongs to a class of hormones called glucocorticoids, which affect almost every organ and tissue in the body. In cases in which the electrolyte levels are normal this is the only test for the problem and it will be missed unless it is looked for specifically.

Causes of Addison's Disease

The common Causes of Addison's Disease :

  • The immune system mistakenly attacking the gland (autoimmune disease)
  • Chronic infections, such as fungal infections.
  • Infections such as tuberculosis , HIV, or fungal infections.
  • Hemorrhage, blood loss.
  • Tumors.
  • Invasion of the adrenal glands by cancer cells from another part of the body.
  • Use of blood-thinning drugs (anticoagulants) .
  • The symptoms of Addison's disease are caused by the failure of the adrenal glands, seated above the kidneys , to produce enough of the hormone cortisol and, in some cases, the hormone aldosterone .

Symptoms of Addison's Disease

Some common Symptoms of Addison's Disease :

  • Weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sweating.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Low blood pressure, even fainting.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Salt craving.
  • Nausea and vomiting .
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Chronic diarrhea.
  • Darkening of your skin (hyperpigmentation).