What is Addison's disease?


Quick Answer

Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands don't produce sufficient quantities of cortisol and aldosterone. The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system, which regulates metabolism, mood, growth and how a person responds to stress.

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Full Answer

Symptoms of Addison's disease include darkening of the skin, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, depression, irritability, decreased appetite and weight loss. An ACTH blood test, which checks the level of cortisol in the blood, helps determine if a patient has Addison's disease.

Treatment for Addison's disease includes replacing the insufficient hormones. If a patient is deficient in cortisol, he is prescribed an oral hydrocortisone medication. Aldosterone replacement is accomplished by taking the drug Florinef; patients who are low in aldosterone are also advised to add more salt to their diet.

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