What is Addison's Disease? Edit

Addison’s disease is a rare, chronic condition brought about by the failure of the adrenal glands. Lifelong, continuous treatment with steroid replacement therapy is required. With the right balance of daily medication, most people with the disease are able to continue life much as it was before their illness.

Addison’s disease is a chronic condition that is brought upon by the failure of adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are at the top of the kidneys, and produce adrenalin, also known as the “fight or flight” stress hormone. The glands are made up of two parts. The core, or medulla, is surrounded by the outer shell, or cortex. The medulla is the part that produces adrenalin, and is not detrimental to Addison’s disease. The cortex through is critical, because it produces the steroid hormones that are essential to human life. The hormones produced are cortisol and aldosterone, Patients with Addison’s disease require life-long treatment, but can often return to living life close to normally.

How does Addison's Disease Affect the Endocrine System? Edit

Addison’s disease affects the endocrine system through lack of needed hormones. The endocrine system revolved around the production and control of hormones, therefore a lack in an essential hormone throws off the system. The body relies of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands, and an insufficient amount is dangerous to both the body and the system. To clarify, the hormones that are in the Endocrine system are: estrogen, progesterone, steroids, cortisol, and cortisone, and chemicals such as adrenalin (epinephrine), norepinephrine, and dopamin. 

Signs and Symptoms Edit

Addison's Disease
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite
  • Darkening of your skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Low blood pressure, even fainting
  • Salt craving
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Nausea, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle or joint pains
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Body hair loss or sexual dysfunction in women

There are certain signs a person can identify to see if they have Addison’s disease. These symptoms can be things such as, but not limited to extreme fatigue, weight loss, low blood pressure, decreased appetite, and hyperpigmentation. The patient may also undergo a craving for salt, body hair loss, muscle or joint pains, and sometimes even fainting.

Diagnosis Edit

Your doctor will talk to you first about your medical history and your signs and symptoms. If your doctor thinks that you may have Addison's disease, you will have to take these tests; Blood Test, ACTH stimulation test, Insulin-induced hypoglycemia test, and lastly imaging tests.

When diagnosing Addison’s disease, your doctor will talk to the patient about their medical history and symptoms. If the doctor believes that the patient has the Addison’s, then they may be subject to certain tests such as a blood test, an ACTH stimulation test, or an insulin-induced hypoglycemia test. The blood test helps the doctor to grasp an indication of whether the signs and symptoms may be caused by adrenal insufficiency. The ACTH stimulation test involves measuring the level of cortisol in the patient’s blood before and after injecting ACTH. The ACTH notifies the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, and if the cortisol levels do barely or do not rise, then the adrenal glands are damaged. As for an insulin-induced hypoglycemia test, the patient’s blood sugar and cortisol levels are measured after injecting various intervals of insulin. If the glucose levels do not fall and the cortisol levels do not increase, then the patient’s cause of adrenal insufficiency may be a pituitary disease.

Treatment Edit

All treatment for Addison's disease involves hormone replacement therapy to correct the levels of steroid hormones your body isn't producing. Some methods of treatment are; Oral corticosteroids, Corticosteroid injections

To treat Addison’s disease, one must go through a hormone replacement therapy. This therapy will attempt to correct the levels of steroid hormones that the patient’s body is not producing. Different treatment options include things such as oral corticosteroids, which are a type of steroid hormones produced in the adrenal cortex of vertebrates, or corticosteroid injections. The injections are mostly reserved for patients who are suffering from vomiting and cannot hold down the oral medications.