What are the symptoms of Addison’s disease?

Symptoms of Addison’s disease usually begin gradually and may be overlooked because they progress slowly. Often, a stressful event, such as an accident or illness, will cause symptoms to worsen and progress more rapidly. The most common symptoms of Addison’s disease include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, and unintentional weight loss. Other symptoms may affect the digestive tract, respiratory system, nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, or integumentary system (skin and associated tissues).

Common symptoms of Addison’s disease

The most common symptoms of Addison’s disease include:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Muscle weakness or extreme weakness

  • Ongoing fatigue that does not improve

  • Unexplained weight loss

Other symptoms of Addison’s disease

Other possible symptoms of Addison’s disease include:

  • Chronic diarrhea

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Headache

  • Irregular or missed menstrual periods in women

  • Irritability and depression

  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

  • Mouth lesions

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Salt craving

  • Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation) or patchy skin color

  • Slow, sluggish movements

  • Sweating

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

Seek prompt medical care if you, or someone you are with, are being treated for Addison’s disease and have any of the following symptoms:

  • Gradual weight gain

  • New symptoms that you have not had previously

  • Not able to keep your medications down due to vomiting

  • Swelling of your ankles

  • Unusual stressor, such as an infection, injury or trauma

Symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

Symptoms of Addison’s disease may progress suddenly and become severe, leading to a life-threatening situation called an Addisonian crisis (acute adrenal crisis). Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of the following symptoms:

  • Change in mental status such as confusion

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Loss of consciousness or change in consciousness such as passing out

  • Low blood pressure symptoms, such as blurry vision, dizziness, fainting, or light-headedness

  • Severe nausea and vomiting

  • Sudden abdominal pain, low back pain, or leg pain

  • Symptoms of dehydration, such as dry mouth and cracked lips, dizziness, headache, and not urinating or urinating very small amounts of dark urine

INTRODUCTION

What is Addison’s disease?

Addison’s disease, also called primary adrenal insufficiency, occurs when your adrenal glands are not able to make enough hormones that are required for a variety of processes in the body. Damage to your adrenal glands is the most common cause of Addison’s disease. Although current statistics are not available, Addison’s disease is considered a rare disorder, affecting on... Read more about addison's diseaseintroduction

CAUSES

What causes Addison’s disease?

Addison’s disease is caused by damage, destruction or malfunction of the adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands are located just above your kidneys and are responsible for producing various hormones. These hormones are responsible for regulating your body’s stress response, energy needs, immune function, salt and water balance, and sexual development. When your adrenal glands are damaged or destroyed, your body no longer has enough of these hormones and adverse symptoms occur.... Read more about addison's diseasecauses

TREATMENTS

How is Addison’s disease treated?

There is no cure once your adrenal glands are damaged to the point that Addison’s disease develops. However, the symptoms of Addison’s disease can be controlled by replacing the hormones that your adrenal glands can no longer make. This medication therapy will likely be needed throughout your life.... Read more about addison's diseasetreatments

Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jun 14, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Diabetes and the Endocrine System


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