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Addison’s disease — causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by

Addison’s disease is the common term for  primary adrenal insufficiency, an endocrine or hormonal condition that occurs when the adrenal glands fail to produce sufficient levels of certain hormones. An entry posted on the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) website notes that the adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys, and are responsible for producing various hormones — such as cortisol, aldosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone — that play a central role in body function.

The article notes that symptoms of Addison’s disease include general muscle weakness, digestive issues and blood pressure and blood sugar fluctuations. The entry also cautions that sudden and severe worsening of adrenal insufficiency may lead to dehydration, lower back pain and even unconsciousness. In addition, the NDDKD entry reveals that up to 80 percent of Addison’s disease cases stem from an autoimmune disorder.

Known side effects of Addison’s disease

A Live Strong article warns that Addison’s disease is associated with an increased risk of mineral and hormonal imbalance, which in turn may lead to muscle spasms, irregular heart rate, and general weakness. The condition is also linked to the onset of various digestive woes including nausea, vomiting, and stomach and intestinal irritation. Addison’s disease is tied to an increased likelihood of drug toxicity as well.

Furthermore, mood swings caused by Addison’s disease may elevate the risk of increased irritability, anxiety, and restlessness. The disease may also trigger the onset of sleep disorders. The entry adds that the disease may result in musculization due to its testosterone-raising effects. This in turn may promote facial hair growth, increased sweating, and acne flare up in female patients.

Body systems harmed by Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease primarily targets heart health and the digestive tract. Likewise, the disease is known to negatively impact the muscular system. The condition is also found to be notoriously detrimental to both the female reproductive system and the central nervous system.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease can be prevented by eating foods high in sodium. The health care industry has set up certain standards for adequate sodium intake for patients with Addison’s disease. Likewise, eating foods rich in vitamin A may help keep the disease at bay. Foods with high vitamin A levels include carrots, sweet potatoes and dark leafy vegetables as well as apricots, lemons, egg yolks and bell peppers. Moreover, eating foods rich in vitamin D may help fortify bone strength in patients. These foods include:

  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Cod liver oil
  • Canned tuna
  • Mango

Treatments, management plans for Addison’s disease

An article posted on the Medscape website stresses that both intravenous treatment and isotonic sodium chloride infusion should be given immediately to patients with acute adrenal crisis in order to address hypotension or low blood pressure. Likewise, the article underscores the need for parenteral steroid coverage at the event of trauma, stress or major injury. The entry adds that people with the disease should consult an endocrinologist who will oversee both acute care and on-going treatment.

Where to learn more


Addison’s disease may lead to hormonal imbalance, muscle spasms, irregular heart rate and general weakness.

Addison’s disease may result in drug toxicity, nausea, vomiting and stomach and intestinal irritation.

Addison’s disease may cause female musculization, sleeping disorders, irritability, anxiety and restlessness.

Addison’s disease  primarily targets heart health and the digestive tract.

Addison’s disease is known to negatively impact the muscular system.

Addison’s disease is detrimental to female health and the central nervous system.

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