Addison's disease is also known as Adrenal insufficiency and relates to malfunctioning of Adrenal Gland. Just above the kidneys, two adrenal glands are situated, that produce several essential hormones.
The adrenal gland can be divided into two parts; Adrenal Cortex (upper portion) and Adrenal Medulla (inner portion). Both these sections produce different classes of hormones; essential for healthy functioning of your body. Medulla produces Adrenalin that regulates various metabolic functions within the body. Cortex on the other hand, produces Glucocorticoids and Mineralocorticoids, along with male sex hormone, Androgen.
Any damage to the Adrenal Cortex, that results in reduced production of a type of Glucocorticoid known as Cortisol, and a type of Mineralocorticoid known as Aldosterone, is known as Addison's disease. In a nutshell, the failure of the glands to produce these vital hormones is known as Addison's Disease or Hypoadrenalism.
Addison's Disease has been divided into two sub sections, depending upon the causes that are causing this adrenal insufficiency. The two types and related causes have been discussed below:
Primary Adrenal Insufficiency:
Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency:
Addison's disease does not come up with vivid symptoms and therefore does not facilitate early diagnosis. Identifying subtle symptoms and visiting the doctor as soon as these are experienced is crucial.
Listed below are some of the early symptoms of Addison's disease:
Symptoms experienced after a few months:
Adrenal or Addison's Crisis is a condition that refers to acute adrenal insufficiency. During this condition, adrenal glands almost stop producing related hormones, resulting in worsening of above symptoms.
Adrenal Crisis may lead to coma and even death. Sometimes, adrenal crisis may result in sudden show of severe symptoms and the patient needs to be rushed to a hospital so as to avoid fatal cases.
As above mentioned, the disease does not come up with vivid symptoms that can confirm Adrenal insufficiency. However still, a doctor will definitely discuss symptoms and perform simple physical examinations to look for any hyperpigmentation symptoms or brownish discoloration of gums and lips.
Besides this, a doctor will order for the following tests to confirm Addison's disease:
Addison's disease is treated with prescribed medicines that make up for the reduced hormone production. These medicines need to be taken regularly. Frequent visits to your doctor for regulating medication is vital. Increased doses may prove otherwise.
Associated problems such as diabetes or thyroid disorders also need to be treated and monitored separately. Early treatment of Addison's disease is crucial to prevent it from turning fatal.
Some of the medicines required for Addison's treatment may be required to be taken for a life time. Regular testing and monitoring of medicines is vital. The medication may be changed at times of stress, injury or surgery. Therefore, visiting your doctor after every 4-6 months to know about your adrenal health is always suggested.
It is very much important that you do not allow yourself or anybody else to reach this state of crisis. However, if a person suddenly reaches this state, then make sure that anybody in the family injects corticosteroid doses after doctor consultation. This makes the disease less life threatening. The patient then needs to be rushed to a hospital for proper monitoring and care.
Yes children can also suffer from Addison's disease. This brings about slow growth and late puberty in children who are diagnosed with this adrenal insufficiency.
However, correct treatment measures can help to control adverse effects.
Yes. Addison's disease can be a birth defect when you acquire wrong genes from your parents. However, studies are still going on to know more about this condition and how it can be prevented.
FAQsAddison's Disease FAQs