Addison’s Disease – Causes, Symptoms of addison’s disease

Addison’s disease is disorder of the adrenal glands situated above the kidneys. The main defect is that the adrenal glands are not able to produce hormones aldosterone and cortisol. This disease is also called hypocortisolism or adrenal insufficiency.In rare cases, it van become life threatening. The disease is mainly characterized by muscle weakness, weight loss, low blood pressure and fatigue. It occurs in about 1 to 5 out of 100,000 people. It can occur at any age but it affects mostly in people whose age is between 30-50 years.

What are the Causes of Addison’s Disease?

The causes of Addison’s disease or the underlying conditions that cause this disorder include:

  • Adrenal Cancer
  • Tuberculosis
  • Polyendocrine deficiency syndrome
  • Amyloidosis
  • Adrenal gland removal
  • Pituitary tumour
  • Infection of the pituitary gland
  • Surgery or removal of the Hypothalamus
  • Pituitary gland removal
  • Bleeding into the adrenal glands
  • People who are on prolonged intake of corticosteroids in conditions like asthma,arthritis.


The symptoms develop slowly in Addison’s disease and the symptoms include:

  • Salt craving
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Muscle or joint pains
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite

Other Symptoms include

Darkening of the skin. This occurs in:

  • Skin folds
  • Over new scars
  • Joints like elbows, knuckles, toes and knees
  • Creases of the palm
  • On the lips and tissue lining the mouth and nose
  • Lightheaded
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty in concentrating in works

Adrenal Crisis

In case of adrenal crisis, where there is severe infection, trauma and surgery or dehydration. The body does not produce enough cortisol to cope with the stress. If adrenal crisis is not treats on time, the patient may die of shock. Symptoms of an adrenal shock include:

  • Loss of body fluids due to severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lightheaded
  • Extreme weakness
  • Acute pain in the legs, belly and lower back
  • Changes in the level of consciousness
  • Difficulty in staying awake
  • Total loss of consciousness
  • High fever
  • Abnormal behavior like confusion, restlessness or feeling fearful
  • Pale face and blue earlobes and lips

When to seek medical advise?

If you find the signs and symptoms that commonly occur in people suffering with Addison’s disease like darkening areas of the skin, fatigue and weight loss, consult your doctor immediately to determine whether these symptoms are due to addison’s disease or any other medical condition.

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