Thursday, August 7, 2008

What Does Your Family Know About Addison's Disease?

WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY KNOW ABOUT ADDISON'S DISEASE?

Hormone: chemical substance that is secreted at one point in the body and conveyed in the blood to regulate the normal body functions of tissues and organs elsewhere in the body.

Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands (ductless glands situated on the kidneys) do not produce enough of cortisol (hormone active in carbohydrate and protein metabolism) and, in some cases, the hormone aldosterone. The disease is referred to as adrenal insufficiency, or hypocortisolism. Causes of adrenal insufficiency can be grouped by the way in which they cause the adrenals to produce insufficient cortisol. These are adrenal dysgenesis (the gland has not formed adequately during development), impaired steroidogenesis (the gland is present but is biochemically unable to produce cortisol) or adrenal destruction (disease processes leading to the gland being damaged)

Addison's disease is an endocrine or hormonal disorder that can afflict persons of any age, gender, or ethnicity, but it typically presents in adults between 30 and 50 years of age. Young women are most affected, outnumbering men by a factor of four.

The disease is characterized by weight loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, and sometimes darkening of the skin in both exposed and non-exposed parts of the body.

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