Endocrine System Home > Addison's Disease

What Are the Symptoms?

Addison's disease symptoms usually begin gradually. Common symptoms include:
 
  • Chronic fatigue that progressively worsens.
     
  • Muscle weakness.
     
  • Loss of appetite.
     
  • Weight loss.
     
  • Nausea.
     
  • Vomiting.
     
  • Diarrhea.
     
  • Low blood pressure that falls further when standing, causing dizziness or fainting.
     
  • Skin changes with areas of hyperpigmentation, or dark tanning, covering exposed and non-exposed parts of the body. This darkening of the skin is most visible on scars, skin folds, pressure points (such as the elbows, knees, knuckles, and toes), lips, and mucous membranes.
     
(Click Symptoms of Addison's Disease to learn more about Addison's disease symptoms, including symptoms of an addisonian crisis.)
 

Diagnosing Addison's Disease

In its early stages, it can be difficult to make an Addison's disease diagnosis. After asking a number of questions and performing a physical exam, the doctor may recommend certain tests as part of Addison's disease testing. These Addison's disease tests can include:
 
  • ACTH stimulation test
  • CRH stimulation test
  • ACTH and cortisol blood levels
  • Abdominal x-rays.

 

(Click Diagnosing Addison's Disease for more information.)

 

Treatment Options

There is no Addison's disease cure. However, Addison's disease can be controlled with medications. Treatment involves replacing, or substituting, the hormones that the adrenal glands are not making.
 
Most people with Addison's disease should expect to lead healthy lives with a normal life expectancy.
 
(Click Addison's Disease Treatment for more information about the treatments for this disease.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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