Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is caused by the reduced hormones which are produced by the adrenal gland. This leads to various symptoms and if not managed, it can cause complications that may endanger your life. This disease belongs to a rare disorder in the adrenal gland.

If a person has this rare disorder, the immune system mistakenly attacks your adrenal glands. The adrenal cortex is destroyed and hampering the production of cortisol and aldosterone. This disease can occur in men and women of different ages, but the more common in women and children.

Addison’s Disease - Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes

Addison’s Disease Causes

Addison’s disease is generally caused by a disturbance in the body’s immune system that attacks the outer adrenal gland (cortex). This condition has an impact on the production of the hormone cortisol and aldosterone produced by the adrenal gland. Nevertheless, the cause of the emergence of abnormalities in the immune system is not known until now.

Cortex is the outer layer of the adrenal glands that produce the hormone corticosteroid which consists of glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, and androgens hormones. Some of the uses of these hormones are:

  • Mineralocorticoids. Together with the androgen hormone, the mineralocorticoid hormone works to keep the balance of sodium and potassium in the body and keep blood pressure normal.
  • Androgens. This hormone plays a role in male sexual development such as muscle mass and libido. This hormone is also produced by a small amount of the female adrenal glands
  • Glucocorticoids. This hormone is responsible for the immune system’s response to inflammation, affect the body’s ability to convert food into energy, and overcome the stress experienced by the body.

There are two types of causes of Addison’s disease based on disorders experienced by the gland. They are:

  • Primary adrenal insufficiency. Addison’s disease occurs due to the destruction of Cortex’s. So it does not produce enough hormones. The most common cause of this condition is due to an autoimmune disease. Other causes of primary adrenal insufficiency include infection, bleeding, tuberculosis, or the spread of cancer cells to these glands.
  • Secondary adrenal insufficiency. The inadequacy amount of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) that produced by the body as a result of the condition of the pituitary gland (producing ACTH) that is affected by the disease (such as a tumor). Secondary adrenal insufficiency also may be triggered by a sudden cessation of corticosteroid therapy in patients with chronic diseases such as asthma or arthritis.

Besides the insufficiency of the adrenal gland, Addison’s disease can also be genetically inherited and long-term use of steroid-containing drugs. Some other autoimmune diseases can also be the cause of the development of this disease including:

  • Celiac disease
  • Schmidt syndrome
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Graves’ disease
  • Vitiligo
  • Idiopathic hypo parathyroid
  • Myasthenia gravis
Addison’s Disease - Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes

Addison’s Disease Symptoms

This disease is hard to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those of other health ailments. These indicators usually develop gradually over a period of several months. Some common symptoms that may arise are:

  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Lethargy (drowsiness or tiredness that may come abnormally)
  • Low blood sugar
  • Darkening of your skin
  • Appetite loss or weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Moodiness or mild depression and irritability
  • Craving salty foods

As mentioned, the Addison’s disease symptoms usually take months. During this time, the symptoms become more severe as well. Here are some signs of a severe case of Addison’s disease:

  • Dizziness and headache
  • Rapid shallow breathing
  • Intense muscle weakness
  • Severe diarrhea and vomiting
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Severe dehydration
  • Sweating and skin that’s pale, cold and clammy
  • Loss of consciousness


There is no cure for Addison’s disease. However, there are ways to manage this illness to prevent it from causing further harm. The following are some ways to treat this disease.

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Conventional Treatment

This treatment usually involves steroid hormones because the patient cannot produce their own supply of hormones. They must rely on oral supplementation include:

  • Hydrocortisone. It is a steroid hormone to replace cortisol.
  • Fludrocortisone acetate. It is used to replace aldosterone. In some cases, your doctor may advise you to increase your salt intake.

Holistic Remedies

You may also try herbal remedies that may be helpful. However, make sure to inform your physician before reaching for these holistic treatments.

  • Reishi mushroom and turmeric. For boosting the immune system and increasing hormone production
  • Green tea. It helps regulate hormones and ensure that the body’s metabolism is properly working
  • Ginger. It is to soothe the symptoms of this condition
  • Borago and ginseng. These herbs are for supporting the immune system