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Addison's Disease: Know The Signs And Symptoms Of This Condition

Addison's disease refers to primary adrenal insufficiency when the glands do not produce enough stress and blood-pressure controlling hormones.


Addison's disease is increasingly common in today's world


  1. Addisons disease is increasingly common in todays world
  2. Secondary adrenal insufficiency is more common than the Addisons disease
  3. Acute adrenal failure is a serious medical emergency

The adrenal glands are an essential part of your body's endocrine system. This system is responsible for producing hormones which are essential for all the functions of your body. Now imagine what it would be like if the adrenal glands suffer from damage and fail to produce hormones. Addison's disease is one such health condition wherein the adrenal glands go through damage and fail to function properly. These are triangular shaped, almost the size of your thumb and are located right above your kidney.

The hormones produced by your adrenal glands regulate your body metabolism, body's response to stress and blood pressure. They also produce the sex hormones in your body. Nevertheless, these hormones are of utmost importance for the normal functioning of your body. Addison's disease is increasingly common in today's world. Each year, 140 million people are diagnosed with it.

What are the types of Adrenal insufficiency?

People suffering from the Addison's disease have poorly or insufficiently functioning adrenal glands. It is also known as adrenal insufficiency. Addison's disease is used for primary adrenal insufficiency when the glands do not produce enough stress and blood-pressure controlling hormones. However, secondary insufficiency takes place when the pituitary gland does not produce enough ACTH which eventually hampers stress-hormone production. If ACTH decreases too much, the gland may stop producing the stress-hormone altogether and the gland may shrink in size. Secondary adrenal insufficiency is more common than the Addison's disease.

addisons diseaseAddison's disease is increasingly common in today's world

What are the signs and symptoms of Addison's disease?

Addison's is a disease which develops over a long period of time which is why it does not show any symptoms. Until you go through a stressful event like an illness, accident or surgery, you may not realize you have the Addison's disease. When any such incident takes place, it is known as Addisonian crisis. After this, the symptoms of Addison's worsen very quickly. This crisis can be fatal and for one in four people, this is the first signal of the fact that they are ill.

Symptoms of the Addison's disease are similar to other health conditions like flu, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. This is the reason why diagnosing this disease becomes quite tricky. So here we enlist two different types of symptoms of the Addison's disease, namely the initial symptoms and the acute adrenal failure symptoms. Take a look.

Initial symptoms

Initially, Addison's may show the following symptoms.  

Addison's disease: Nausea is a  symptom of Addison's disease
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1. Dizziness

2. Fainting

3. Fatigue

4. Nausea

5. No motivation

6. Lethargy

7. Mild depression

8. Loss of appetite

9. Loss of body hair

10. Low blood volume

11. Low blood pressure

12. Craving for salty foods

13. Irregular periods

14. Frigidity in women

15. Low blood sugar

These symptoms may worsen as a result of an accident or a surgery.

Acute adrenal failure

Under this condition, the adrenal crisis takes place which is a medical emergency. It can cause death if immediate medical support is not provided. It usually happens when Addison's goes untreated. If the stress-hormone levels droop drastically, it can be potentially fatal for you. It can also happen to a person who has been on steroids for a very long time and suddenly stops consuming them. This crisis may appear suddenly and can show symptoms like:

1. Confusion or disturbed mental status

2. Excessive pain

3. Loss of consciousness

4. Leg pain

5. Seizures

6. Irregular heartbeats

7. Excessive muscle weakness

8. Lethargy

9. Low blood pressure which may lead to organ failure

10. Excessive vomiting and diarrhea which can lead to dehydration

addisons disease

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Addison's disease: Irregular heartbeats are also a symptom
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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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