Friday, September 26, 2008

Addison's Disease

[spelling errors are  left as they are in  the original article]


Mrs. Bernstein's Block 3 This is a site for the students of Mrs. Bernstein's Block 3 Anatomy and Physiology class to collaborate and review course material.

Addison's Disease

Addison's disease affects the adrenal glands which are part of the endocrine system. The adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, secretes the hormone cortisol, a hormone that has hundreds of uses within the body. Cortisol main function is to handle stress. Cortisol also helps maintain blood pressure in the cardiovascular system, slow inflamation of the lymphatic/immune system, balance insulin, regulate metabolism, and maintain a sense of well being in the body. The production of cortisol is control the hypothalamus in the brain and pituitary gland and must be precisely balanced.

  • Addison's disease affects 1 in 100,000 people
  • 2 Types of Addison's Disease: Primary & Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency
  • Addison's is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body's immune system attack and breaks down the adrenal glands.


Priamary- Caused by degeneration of the adrenal cortex. Tuberculosis may cause adrenal degeneration. Other causes are acute fungal infection and cancer cells spreading from other parts of the body.

Secondary- Caused by lack of hormone from pituitary gland that directs production of cortisol. (More common of the two types of Addison's)

Symptoms:(begin gradually)

  • chronic worsening fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • loss of appitite
  • weight loss
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (shows 50% 0f the time)
  • irritabilityand depression
  • cravings for salty food
  • loss of menstruation in women
  • low blood sugar

Disease is easy to miss because symptoms start minor and gradually increase

Hormone therapy the is the most common treatment