What Is Addison’s Disease and Who Is at Risk?
Addison’s disease affects 200,000 people each year and is a chronic condition that can last a lifetime or for several years. The disease develops when the body doesn’t produce enough hormones from the adrenal glands, including insufficient levels of aldosterone and cortisol. Although there is not yet a cure for the condition, there are several treatment options that are available to manage the disease.
There are a number of symptoms that are associated with Addison’s disease, which includes extreme fatigue, salt cravings, nausea and vomiting, low blood pressure, weight loss with a decreased appetite, body hair loss, depression, and irritability. Many people who suffer from the condition may also experience acute adrenal failure, which includes losing of consciousness, low blood pressure, pain in the lower back or legs, and severe vomiting or diarrhea. This can make it challenging to maintain work performance or daily responsibilities.
According to Mayoclinic.com, it’s important to see a doctor if you experience muscle or joint pains, unintentional weight loss, hyperpigmentation on the skin, gastrointestinal issues, and severe fatigue that is accompanied by salt cravings.
Doctors are able to diagnose the disorder after asking questions about your symptoms and your family’s medical history. This may also include undergoing a blood test to determine how much sodium is present in the body and if adrenal insufficiency is the cause. An ACTH stimulation test may also be performed to measure the level of cortisol in the body before and after you receive an injection of synthetic ACTH. This will reveal if the adrenal glands are damaged if the output of cortisol is limited in response to the synthetic ACTH. You may also undergo imaging tests with a CT scan that is taken of your abdomen to determine the size of your adrenal glands, which will also reveal any other abnormalities that may be present. If the tests show that there is secondary adrenal insufficiency, an MRI scan will be performed.
Insulin-induced hypoglycemia tests are occasionally performed, which checks the blood sugar and cortisol levels after an injection of insulin is given by a medical professional.
Addison’s disease is caused by adrenal glands that become damaged, which are located above the kidneys and produce insufficient amounts of aldosterone and cortisol. They are also known to give directions to every organ and tissue in the body. Other causes of the condition can include Tuberculosis, infections of the adrenal glands, cancer that spreads to the adrenal glands and bleeding that occurs in the adrenal glands.
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