Addison’s’ disease can affect both men and women and can be observed in any age group. It is caused by insufficiency of certain hormones often cortisol and aldosterone produced by adrenal gland. This disease can be life threatening. It requires hormonal replacement to prevent the damage caused by absence of these hormones.
Symptoms: – Symptoms of Addison’s disease develop slowly over several months.
1. Weight loss
2. Decreased appetite
3. Muscle weakness
6. Loss of body hair
8. Low blood pressure
9. Craving for salt
10. Low blood sugar
11. Gastrointestinal disturbances like vomiting and diarrhea causing dehydration
12. Irritability and mood changes
14. Sexual dysfunction
Addisonian Crisis – Acute adrenal failure
Although the symptoms of Addison’s disease are gradual, sometimes, they may appear suddenly indicating endocrine failure. These signs and symptoms are as follows:-
1. Pain in lower back
2. Sudden drop in blood pressure
4. Diarrhea and vomiting leading to dehydration
5. High blood potassium levels
6. Pain in legs
7. Abdominal pain
Addisonian crisis is usually caused by untreated Addison’s disease or physical injury and illnesses.
Main hormones produced by Endocrine Gland:-
* Glucocorticoids: – These hormones are essential for food metabolism. They also determine immune system response to inflammatory diseases and prepare the body to handle stress. These hormones contain cortisol.
* Mineralocorticoids: – These hormones include aldosterone. They are essential for maintenance of sodium and calcium balance in the body. These hormones are essential to keep the blood pressure normal.
* Androgens: – These are male sex hormones and are necessary for sexual development in men. They are responsible for building muscle mass and development of libido in men. They increase overall sense of well being in both men and women.
Addison’s disease is caused by damage to endocrine gland.
1. Primary adrenal insufficiency:-
In this case, Addison’s disease occurs on account of damage to endocrine cortex. As a result, it cannot produce adrenocortical hormones in sufficient levels. As a result, body’s own immune system begins to attack several organs in the body. It can also attack and destroy endocrine cortex causing further complications.
2. Secondary endocrine insufficiency:-
In this case, Adrenal insufficiency occurs on account of damage to pituitary gland. Pituitary gland produces a hormone known as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). It acts as a stimulator for the production of endocrine cortex hormones. If ACTH production is reduced, endocrine hormones are also not secreted in sufficient amounts even if endocrine glands are intact. Secondary adrenal insufficiency can be triggered by suddenly stopping intake of corticosteroids which are used in the treatment of asthma or arthritis.
3. Other causes:-
* Bleeding into endocrine glands
* infections of the adrenal glands
* Cancer spread to endocrine gland