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Addison’s Disease / Hypocorticism / Hypocortisolism / Adrenal Insufficiency

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Symptoms and Diagnosis

Some of the common symptoms include:

• Fatigue, dizziness, Muscle weakness
• Decrease in appetite
• Anxiety, Weight loss
• Excessive skin pigmentation (hyperpigmentation)
• Low blood BP/ Low blood sugar
• Salt craving / Irritability
• Pain in Muscles / joint pains
• Nausea/ diarrhea/ vomiting
• Depression

Vitiigo and Goiter are conditions that often occur along with Addison’s disease.

Addisonian crisis

In some situations acute adrenal failure also known as ‘Addisonian crisis’ may occur the signs and symptoms of which may include Pain in the lower back, abdomen or legs, Severe vomiting, diarrhea which can lead to dehydration, fever, decreased blood pressure, high levels of potassium and calcium, low sugar, loss of consciousness, convulsions, confusion, lethargy and psychosis.

An "Addisonian crisis" is a medical emergency that if left untreated can prove to be fatal.


Addison’s disease is diagnosed with some of the diagnostic modalities mentioned below:

Blood tests- Blood tests are carried out to measure the levels of sodium, potassium, cortisol and ACTH in the blood. It also evaluates the antibodies if the Addison's disease is caused by an autoimmune condition.

ACTH stimulation test - Here the level of cortisol in the blood is measured before and after administering synthetic ACTH which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. This test will clearly be able to assess the damaged situation of the adrenal glands.

Insulin-induced hypoglycemia test- In case of secondary adrenal insufficiency a dose of insulin is administered after which blood glucose and cortisol levels are checked at various intervals. In healthy individuals, the glucose levels deteriorate while the cortisol levels elevates.

Imaging tests. Computerized tomography (CT) scan of your abdomen to assess the size of the adrenal glands and an MRI scan of the pituitary gland may be carried out in case of secondary adrenal insufficiency.

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