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Addisons diseases

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Posted by on Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 7:29
This news item was posted in A, A to Z Diseases, Liver category and has 1 Comment so far.

Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease is a disorder that occurs when the adrenal glandsadrenal glands do not produce enough of their hormones.

Addisons Diseases
Addisons Diseases

The adrenal glands are small hormone-secreting organs located on top of each kidney. They consist of the outer portion (called the cortex) and the inner portion (called the medulla).

The cortex produces three types of hormones:

* The glucocorticoid hormones (such as cortisol) maintain sugar (glucose) control, decrease (suppress) immune responseimmune response, and help the body respond to stress.
* The mineralocorticoid hormones (such as aldosterone) regulate sodium and potassium balance.
* The sex hormones, androgens (male) and estrogens (female), affect sexual development and sex drive.

Addison’s disease results from damage to the adrenal cortex. The damage causes the cortex to produce less of its hormones.

This damage may be caused by the following:

* The immune system mistakenly attacking the gland (autoimmune disease)
* Infections such as tuberculosistuberculosis, HIV, or fungal infections
* Hemorrhage, blood loss
* Tumors
* Use of blood-thinning drugs (anticoagulants)

Risk factors for the autoimmune type of Addison’s disease include other autoimmune diseasesautoimmune diseases:

* Chronic thyroiditisChronic thyroiditis
* Dermatis herpetiformisDermatis herpetiformis
* Graves’ diseaseGraves’ disease
* HypoparathyroidismHypoparathyroidism
* HypopituitarismHypopituitarism
* Myasthenia gravisMyasthenia gravis
* Pernicious anemiaPernicious anemia
* Testicular dysfunction
* Type I diabetesType I diabetes
* VitiligoVitiligo

Certain genetic defects may cause these conditions.


* Changes in blood pressure or heart rate
* Chronic diarrhea
* Darkening of the skin – patchy skin colorpatchy skin color
* Unnaturally dark color in some places
* Paleness
* Extreme weaknessweakness
* FatigueFatigue
* Loss of appetiteLoss of appetite
* Mouth lesionsMouth lesions on the inside of a cheek (buccal mucosamucosa)
* Nausea and vomiting
* Salt craving
* Slow, sluggish movement
* Unintentional weight lossUnintentional weight loss

Exams and Tests

Tests may show:

* Increased potassiumpotassium
* Low blood pressureblood pressure
* Low cortisol levelcortisol level
* Low serum sodiumserum sodium
* Normal sex hormone levels

Other tests may include:

* Abdominal x-rayAbdominal x-ray
* Abdominal CT scanAbdominal CT scan

This disease may also change the results of the following tests:

* 17-hydroxycorticosteroids17-hydroxycorticosteroids
* 17-ketosteroids17-ketosteroids
* 24-hour urinary aldosteroneurinary aldosterone excretion rate
* AldosteroneAldosterone
* Blood eosinophilBlood eosinophil count
* CO2CO2
* Cortrosyn stimulation testCortrosyn stimulation test
* Potassium testPotassium test
* ReninRenin
* Urine cortisolUrine cortisol


Treatment with replacement corticosteroids will control the symptoms of this disease. However, you will usually need to take these drugs for life. People often receive a combination of glucocorticoids (cortisone or hydrocortisone) and mineralocorticoids (fludrocortisone).

Never skip doses of your medication for this condition, because life-threatening reactions may occur.

The health care provider may increase the medication dose in times of:

* Infection
* Injury
* Stress

During an extreme form of adrenal insufficiency, adrenal crisisadrenal crisis, you must inject hydrocortisone immediately. Supportive treatment for low blood pressure is usually needed as well.

Some people with Addison’s disease are taught to give themselves an emergency injection of hydrocortisone during stressful situations. It is important for you to always carry a medical identification card that states the type of medication and the proper dose needed in case of an emergency. Additionally, your health care provider may advise you to always wear a Medic-Alert tag (such as a bracelet) alerting health care professionals that you have this condition in case of emergency.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Addisons Diseases
Addisons Diseases

With hormone replacement therapy, most people with Addison’s disease are able to lead normal lives.

Possible Complications

Complications can occur if you take too little or too much adrenal hormone supplement.

Complications also may result from the following related illnesses:

* DiabetesDiabetes
* Hashimoto’s thyroiditisHashimoto’s thyroiditis (chronic thyroiditis)
* Hypoparathyroidism
* Ovarian hypofunctionOvarian hypofunction or testicular failuretesticular failure
* Pernicious anemia
* Thyrotoxicosis

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1 Response to “Addisons diseases”

  1. [...] and conducts a physical examination. In addition, the physician may request a liver biopsy, liver function tests, an ultrasound, or a CT scan (computerized tomography [...]

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