On the top of each kidney, there is a gland called the adrenal gland that secretes steroid hormones such as aldosterone and cortisol. These hormones regulate various bodily functions. Therefore a slight disbalance in them can affect the processes going on in your body.
Addison’s disease is the condition of the adrenal gland, also known as adrenal insufficiency- when your adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones.
Since cortisol and aldosterone are required for bodily functions, when they are secreted in little to no amounts, your body processes are affected.
Addison’s disease needs to be treated as soon as possible. Otherwise, it can lead to life-threatening consequences. To treat the condition, your healthcare providers will administer the hormones from external sources.
In this article, we will tell the essential things you must know about Addison’s disease. If you have any of its symptoms, you must consult with a healthcare provider. To get an expert opinion, you can visit an Endocrinologist in Lahore.
What Are The Symptoms of Addison’s Disease?
The symptoms of Addison’s disease develop gradually, often over some time. You may not know about them until you are stressed, in a state of panic, and undergo any injury or illness.
The common signs and symptoms of Addison’s disease are:
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin
- Blood pressure falls too low that you may even faint
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar level
- A craving for salt
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea
- Muscle and joint ache
- Sexual dysfunction in women
- Loss of body hair
- Depression and its symptoms
Sometimes the symptoms of Addison’s disease appear too quickly, a life-threatening condition called adrenal crisis. If not treated on time, it can lead to shock.
An adrenal crisis is a medical emergency that needs to be treated as soon as possible. If you or anyone near you has any of the following symptoms, visiting the emergency is a must.
- Severe confusion
- Too much weakness in legs
- Severe gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting eventually lead to dehydration.
- Reduced consciousness
- Pain in the legs and lower back
In an adrenal crisis, you may have the following signs and symptoms too:
Extremely low blood pressure can cause you to faint and lead to shock.
Hyperkalemia- high serum potassium levels- also causes your blood pressure to fall because sodium and potassium work antagonistically
Hyponatremia- low serum sodium levels- since sodium regulates your blood pressure, when it is low, your blood pressure also falls too low
Sodium and potassium levels, if they get too low or high, pose a risk for arrhythmias- a life-threatening condition in which your heart rhythm is disrupted.
When Should You See A Doctor?
Seeking professional help is essential if you have any signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency. You must visit the healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Hyperpigmentation- darkening of the skin
- Unexplained weight loss
- Faintness and lightheadedness
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Muscle or joint pain
- Salt craving
What Are The Causes of Addison’s Disease?
Your adrenal glands, located on the top of each kidney, produce hormones such as cortisol and aldosterone. When the adrenal glands are damaged, they can not produce them in an optimal amount, which results in adrenal insufficiency.
However, there can be two reasons for adrenal insufficiency. First is when your cortex is damaged, and the adrenal gland can no longer produce hormones in an optimal quantity- a condition known as primary adrenal insufficiency.
The other type occurs when your adrenal gland is fine, but the pituitary gland can not activate it to produce hormones- a condition known as secondary adrenal insufficiency.
The Bottom Line
Adrenal insufficiency can become a life-threatening condition. Therefore if you have any symptoms, you must seek professional help. To get an expert opinion, you can visit an Endocrinologist in Karachi.