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Addison's disease

Related Terms

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Background

  • Addison's disease, also called adrenal insufficiency or hypocortisolism, is a rare endocrine (hormonal) disorder that is characterized by weight loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, and occasional darkening of the skin.
  • Addison's disease is named after Dr. Thomas Addison, who first identified adrenal insufficiency in 1849. The disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone cortisol and, in some cases, the hormone aldosterone.
  • The adrenal glands, located just above each of the two kidneys, secrete cortisol, also called hydrocortisone. Cortisol regulates proper glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and insulin release for blood sugar maintenance and it is involved in the inflammatory response. When the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol, symptoms of Addison's disease develop.
  • Aldosterone belongs to a class of hormones called mineralocorticoids. This hormone helps regulate blood pressure as well as the water and salt balance in the body by helping the kidneys retain sodium and expel potassium. When aldosterone production falls too low, the kidneys are not able to regulate the salt and water balance, subsequently causing blood volume and blood pressure to drop.
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Causes

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Symptoms

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.