Adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison's disease, is a rare disorder in which your body fails to produce adequate amount of the hormones. When the adrenal glands, which are located on the upper part of your kidneys, produce insufficient amount of cortisol and/or aldosterone hormones; the condition is referred to as Addison's disease. The disease could affect all age groups and genders. This disease can be fatal. Patients with Addison's disease would require hormone replacement therapy throughout life. Let us understand what is Addison disease, its causes, symptoms and treatments?

What is Addison's disease?

Addison's disease is a condition in which the adrenal glands are unable to produce adequate amount of hormones cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body cope with stress, such as injury or surgery. It also aids blood pressure, heart function, the immunological system, and blood glucose (sugar) levels. On the other hand, aldosterone helps the body to maintain healthy sodium and potassium levels. It further impacts blood pressure and volume by checking the amount of fluid removed by kidneys as urine.  

Addison's disease symptoms

Early symptoms of Addison's disease are similar to those of other more prevalent illnesses like depression or the flu. You could have the following symptoms:
•    Extreme exhaustion
•    Weight loss and reduction of appetite
•    Darkening of skin color
•    Low blood pressure
•    A desire for having more salt
•    Low Blood sugar levels
•    Nausea, diarrhoea, or vomiting
•    Abdominal pain
•    Muscle or joint aches and pains
•    Irritability
•    depression
•    Women's hair loss or sexual dysfunction
•    Muscle weakness
•    Increased thirst

Although these symptoms aren't exclusive to Addison's disease, you should see your doctor to understand the underlying reason.

What causes Addison's disease?
Addison disease could be caused by the body’s autoimmune reaction which affects kidneys and adrenal glands including other organs.  Addison's disease can also be caused by:

•    Adrenal gland injury
•    Tuberculosis
•    Blood clots in the adrenal glands
•    Surgically remove adrenal glands
•    Abnormal build-up of some proteins in the organs
•    Fungal infections
•    Invasion of cancer cells to adrenal glands from other parts of the body

Diagnosis of Addison's disease
Your doctor may conduct the tests to see if you have Addison's disease. Your doctor will go over your medical history and do a physical examination. Doctors also recommend blood tests, CT scan and sometimes ACTH stimulation test.

Treatment options
In Addison's disease, Doctors use medication to restore the disturbed hormonal balance. In severe cases, continuous medication is prescribed for rest of the life. The majority of persons with the illness enjoy a normal life and can lead active lives with some restrictions. Weak or dysfunctional adrenal glands is a life-threatening condition. It could be lethal if left untreated.

An individual with Addison's disease should always carry an identification card and wear a bracelet to notify medical personnel of the condition as well as should always keep an extra batch of medicines to be on safer side.

Note: The purpose of this article is to create general awareness among the readers. The information provided is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute to medical practitioner's recommendations. In case you find above stated symptoms in you or your known; kindly consult a physician or a specialist regarding diagnosis and treatment.

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What is Addison's disease?

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