ABC Medical Center > Addison’s disease

What is Addison’s disease?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a condition that affects the adrenal glands, located in the upper renal area, which are responsible for producing hormones that are involved in growth, mood, tissue function, metabolism, and the body’s reaction to stress.

Also called adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 50, but can appear at any age.

There are two types of adrenal insufficiency:

  • Primary: caused by an autoimmune effect, in which the immune system ignores and attacks the adrenal glands. It can also be a consequence of cancer or bleeding in these glands.
  • Secondary: Occurs when another disease inhibits the production of hormones from the adrenal glands or corticosteroids are abruptly stopped.

Signs and symptoms Addison’s disease

Symptoms usually develop slowly and over several months, characterized by:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness when standing up.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Loss of body hair or sexual dysfunctions in women.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Difficulty expressing yourself.
  • Sore muscles and joints.
  • Headache.
  • Sudden and sharp pain in the abdomen, in the lower back, and the lower limbs.
  • Fatigue.
  • High fever.
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypoglycemia.
  • Irritability, anxiety, depression, or other behavioral changes.
  • Slow and paused mobility.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomit.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Need to eat salty things.
  • High potassium level.
  • Low sodium level.
  • Decreased body weight.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Significant decrease in blood pressure.
  • Sweating.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea.

If these symptoms appear abruptly or worsen rapidly, it is known as an Addisonian crisis or acute adrenal insufficiency, which if not treated promptly can lead to death. Therefore, you must go to the ABC Medical Center Emergency Room to receive immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis and treatment Addison’s disease

Once your doctor analyzes your symptoms and medical history, they will perform a physical examination and order blood tests, insulin-induced hypoglycemia tests, and adrenocorticotrophin hormone stimulation tests to measure the body’s hormone and mineral levels. You will also require imaging studies, such as MRI and CT scans, to look at the dimensions of the adrenal glands and pituitary glands.

If deemed necessary, they may order alternative tests for secondary adrenal insufficiency.

Treatment consists primarily of hormone replacement therapy to correct the levels of steroid hormones that your body is not making, using oral medications such as:

  • Cortisone acetate.
  • Fludrocortisone.
  • Hydrocortisone.
  • Prednisone.

Your doctor may also recommend taking dehydroepiandrosterone to improve your mood and restore your sexual desire.

In the event of an Addisonian crisis, you will be injected with hydrocortisone, saline solution, and dextrose to restore blood pressure and regulate blood sugar and potassium levels.

For your safety and well-being, you must carry steroids, your medications, and glucocorticoid injections with you in case of an emergency.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


  • Urbina-Vázquez A, Rodríguez-Lobato E, Aquino-Matus J, et al. Síndrome poliglandular autoinmunitario tipo II (síndrome de Schmidt): enfermedad de Addison y tiroiditis de Hashimoto asociado con vitíligo. Med Int Mex. 2017;33(2):241-245.
  • Narváez-Casillas VE, Vargas-Hernández A. Enfermedad de Addison en un adolescente masculino. Rev Hosp Jua Mex. 2012;79(2):119-124.
  • Álvarez II, Rivera EM, Luna SRA, et al. Enfermedad de Addison. Informe de un caso. An Med Asoc Med Hosp ABC. 2013;58(2):132-136.
  • García RMT, Arenas R, Arellano BRH, et al. Enfermedad de Addison secundaria a tuberculosis suprarrenal. Un caso con hiperpigmentación cutánea, ungueal y de mucosas. Med Int Mex. 2010;26(3):281-285.

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