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Addison'S Disease

Overview

Addison’s disease is a hormonal disorder due to reduction in the production of the hormone “cortisol” and sometimes “aldosterone” also, which is produced from the adrenal gland and is characterized by the sudden weight loss, weakness in muscles and lowering of blood pressure.


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Causes

The cause of the addison’s disease insufficient production of cortisol hormone and sometimes aldosterone from the adrenal glands. This insufficiency might be due to:-

  • Improper formation of  adrenal gland during the development of the organ. This is also called as adrenal dysgenesis.
  • Insufficient production of cortisol although the gland is fully developed and functioning appropriately. This could be due to decreased production of ACTH from pituitary gland. ACTH stimulates the production of cortisol from the adrenal gland.
  • Damage to adrenal gland due to any disease.

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Signs & Symptoms
  • Patient feels early fatigue with a minimum work done.
  • Patient starts losing weight due to his loss of appetite.
  • Patient experiences weakness in muscles.
  • Due to weakness in muscles, patient develops joint and muscle pain and also difficulty in standing and sitting.
  • Patient experiences lowering in his blood pressure, especially when one stands from the sitting position. This is also called as orthostatic hypotension.
  • Due to excessive loss of sodium in urine, patient might develop craving for salty foods.
  • Patient develops hyper pigmentation of the skin, i.e. skin becomes dark and it is mostly on skin folds and inside the cheek.

In severe cases, where addison’s disease go undiagnosed, an emergency situation might develop and need immediate hospitalization and is characterized by:-

  • Sudden onset of stabbing pain in the legs and back.
  • Patient suffers from vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Patient might lose his consciousness.
  • There would be a sudden drop in blood pressure.
  • Speech of the patient become slurred and might experience convulsions.
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Prevention

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Treatments
Hormone Replacement Therapy Modern Medicine

Treatment involves the replacement and substitution of the hormones which are not released by the adrenal gland.

For cortisol deficiency, hydrocortisone tablets are administered and if there is a deficiency of aldosterone also, fludocortisone should be given orally.

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