What is Addison’s Disease? All the information you need about it!
Addison’s is a disease that affects the adrenal glands in the body. Adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys and are responsible for releasing hormones that keep the body functioning normally.
Mostly Addison’s disease strikes when the adrenal cortex is hampered or damaged due to some reason and the glands do not produce enough cortisol and aldosterone in the body. Cortisol helps with the stress in the body and aldosterone helps in sodium and potassium regulation in the body. The adrenal cortex also produces the sex hormones known as androgens.
Here is some more information about the Addison’s disease:
1 What causes Addison’s disease?
Addison’s disease is usually classified into two categories: primary adrenal insufficiency and secondary adrenal insufficiency.
The primary adrenal insufficiency happens when the adrenal glands are damaged to a level where they are not able to produce any amount of hormones on their own. Usually this happens when our body’s immune system attacks these glands and this happens when our body is fighting an auto-immune disease. The immune system then mistakes an organ or an area of the body for the disease and destroys it. The cause of this can be infections, cancer, blood thinners and over administration of glucocorticoids.
The secondary adrenal insufficiency happens when the pituitary gland in the brain does not produce the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which tells the adrenal gland when to release the hormones.
2 Symptoms of Addison’s disease
People who have Addison’s disease may have the following symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling of tiredness and exhaustion
- Decrease in appetite or sudden weight loss
- Low blood sugar levels
- Formation of sores in the mouth
- Increased intake of salt
- Vomiting and nausea.
Some other serious symptoms of Addison’s disease are change in the mental status of the person, regular loss of consciousness, sudden high fever and sudden onset of pain in back, stomach and legs.
3 Who all are at risk?
Though the Addison’s disease may affect anyone at any point of the time, there are some particular types of situations in which some people are at a higher risk of having this disease. People who have:
- A heart condition and take blood thinners/coagulants for that condition
- Any form of cancer
- Suffered or are suffering chronic illnesses like tuberculosis
- Had medical surgery to remove any part of the adrenal gland
- Any autoimmune disease such as Grave’s disease or Type 1 diabetes.
4 Treatment of Addison’s disease
The treatment of this disease depends on your diagnosis and medical history. Also the severity of the disease will be taken into considerations and after that, options to treat the disease will be presented to you.
The diagnosis of the disease can be done by blood tests to see the level of sodium and potassium in your blood, the ACTH stimulation test to see whether the pituitary gland is working properly or not and by CT scans in order to scan your abdomen to see if any abnormalities are damaging your adrenal glands.
The treatment consists of intake of medications that involves hormone replacement therapy to correct the imbalance of the hormones in your body. These hormones medication may be in form of oral corticosteroids or injections and you cannot afford to miss a dose in your entire life.
You may also experience the Addisonian crisis in which the body’s blood pressure, sugar levels in the blood drops and potassium levels in the blood increases. This crisis is treated with intravenous injections of saline, hydrocortisone and sugar.
The Addison’s disease is a disease that requires extreme care and regular checkups, so if you have anyone who is showing symptoms of Addison’s, kindly call emergency helpline or get them to a hospital for a thorough checkup.