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Addison's Disease

Abstract

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NORD is very grateful to Maria I. New, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Human Genetics and Director of Adrenal Steroid Disorders Program, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Addison's Disease

  • chronic adrenocortical insufficiency
  • primary adrenal insufficiency
  • primary failure adrenocortical insufficiency

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Addison's disease is a rare disorder characterized by inadequate production of the steroid hormones cortisol and aldosterone by the outer layer of cells of the adrenal glands (adrenal cortex). The symptoms of classic Addison's disease, also known as primary adrenal insufficiency, result from the insufficient production of these two hormones. Major symptoms include fatigue, gastrointestinal abnormalities, and changes in skin color (pigmentation). Behavior and mood changes may also occur in some individuals with Addison's disease. Increased excretion of water and low blood pressure (hypotension) can lead to extremely low concentrations of water in the body (dehydration). The symptoms of Addison's usually develop slowly, but sometimes can develop rapidly, a serious condition called acute adrenal failure. In most cases, Addison's disease occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the adrenal glands causing slowly progressive damage to the adrenal cortex.

Addison's Disease Resources

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