Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Addison's Disease
Browse and register for related classes.
Addison's disease is a rare condition that develops when the
adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, are not able to produce enough of
the hormones cortisol and aldosterone.
The adrenal glands release cortisol to help the body cope with
stress from illness, injury, surgery, childbirth, or other reasons. Aldosterone
helps the body retain salt and maintain blood pressure. Adrenal gland failure
can be caused by a problem with the body's immune system (autoimmune disease)
or by infection, tumor, bleeding, or injury.
Symptoms of Addison's disease include weakness, weight loss,
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, darkening of the skin (called hyperpigmentation),
emotional distress, and a decreased ability to tolerate cold.
People who have Addison's disease need to take medicine for the
rest of their lives to replace cortisol and aldosterone. Treatment relieves
symptoms and usually reverses any darkening of the skin. After proper treatment
is started, most people with Addison's disease can lead healthy lives. If
Addison's disease is not treated, an adrenal crisis may occur that can lead to
death because of a severe drop in blood pressure.
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
250 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
Share Feedback and Questions
View Quality Data
© 2017 Concord Hospital