What’s Addison’s disease (primary adrenal insufficiency)?

MNT Knowledge CenterAddison’s Disease, also known as Primary Adrenal Insufficiency, Hypoadrenalism, Chronic Adrenal Insufficiency, Chronic adrenocortical insufficiency, Hypocortisolism, and Hypocorticism is a chronic (long-term) underfunction of the outer part of the adrenal gland; known medically as chronic insufficiency of the adrenal cortex.

Addison’s disease is an endocrine disorder – those hormones is really a system of glands, because both versions produces and provides out (secretes) a kind of hormone to manage your body. In patients with Addison’s disease, the adrenals don’t produce enough steroid the body’s hormones, particularly glucocorticoids (cortisol) and sometimes mineralocorticoids (aldosterone) – these the body’s hormones help regulate bloodstream pressure.

What Is Addison’s Disease?

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Addison’s Disease?

What Are The Causes Of Addison’s Disease?

Diagnosing Addison’s Disease

What Are The Treatment Options For Addison’s Disease?

What are the adrenal glands?

We have two adrenal glands, each of which sits on top of one of the kidneys, high up at the back of the abdominal wall.

Each adrenal gland consists of the cortex (an outer wall) and the medulla (the inner portion).

The adrenal glands produce hormones. These hormones help regulate:

  • The heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • The way our body uses food
  • Various other vital functions

The adrenal cortex secretes:

  • Glucocorticoids (cortisone-related hormones) – hormones that mainly affect carbohydrate metabolism, as well as (lesser extent) fats and proteins. Classed as steroids.
  • Mineralocorticoids – a group of hormones that regulate the balance of water and electrolytes (e.g. iron, sodium, potassium, etc.) in the human body. They act on the tubules of the kidney.
  • Sex hormones – small amounts of male and female sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen are also produced.

The adrenal medulla makes:

  • Adrenaline – secreted when glucose blood levels are low. Also secreted when we exercise and are under stress. It causes glycogen to break down to sugar glucose in the liver.
  • Noradrenaline – a neurotransmitter (neurohormone) of the sympathetic nervous system.

In patients with Addison’s disease, the cortex of both adrenal glands are usually destroyed, disrupting the production of cortisol and aldosterone (steroid hormones).

Addison’s disease is a rare disease which tends to affect patients aged between 30 and 50 years, although it may occur at any age. Sometimes Addison’s disease may be life-threatening.

According to the National Adrenal Diseases Foundation (NADF US), USA, there are no accurate statistics on the incidence of Addison’s disease in the USA. A British study showed 39 cases per million population as of 1960; twelve of them due to TB (tuberculosis). The NADF says that extrapolation of the British figures to the United States would give approximately 8,800 cases. The NADF says this figure is probably conservative.

Treatment for Addison’s disease involves taking replacement hormones. With proper medication and compliance (adherence), patients can expect to live a healthy and normal life.

Addison’s disease was named after Dr. Thomas Addison (1793-1860), a renowned 19th-century English physician and scientist. He first described the condition in On the Constitutional and Local Effects of Disease of the Suprarenal Capsules (1849).

  • What Is Addison’s Disease?
  • What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Addison’s Disease?
  • What Are The Causes Of Addison’s Disease?
  • Diagnosing Addison’s Disease
  • What Are The Treatment Options For Addison’s Disease?