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What Is Addison's Disease?

Addison's disease is a medical condition that occurs as a result of the destruction of the adrenal cortex. The cells in the adrenal cortex produce hormones that are responsible for certain bodily functions, such as slowing down the immune system's inflammatory response, maintaining blood pressure, and regulating the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
This disease is generally characterized by weight loss, muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, low blood pressure, and sometimes darkening of the skin in both exposed and non-exposed parts of the body.
Because symptoms can be shared with other conditions and will appear gradually, it is important to have a health professional conduct a physical exam and several tests to determine results. Addison's disease testing may include ACTH stimulation tests, CRH stimulation tests, and abdominal x-rays.
Although Addison's disease is not curable, treatment (usually involving medication) can help control the condition. Treatment plans typically involve replacing, or substituting, the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making.
(Click Addison's Disease for a more detailed explanation of this condition, including information on its causes, other symptoms that may occur, and suggestions for living with this illness.)
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