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Addison's Disease Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Extreme weakness, fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Darkening of freckles, nipples, scars, skin creases, gums, mouth, nail beds, and vaginal lining
  • Emotional changes, especially depression
  • Craving for salty foods
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anorexia
  • Amenorrhea

A severe complication of Addison's disease is the Addisonian or adrenal crisis .

Symptoms include:

  • Severe abdominal, back, or leg pain
  • Fainting or semicomatose state
  • Severe low blood pressure
  • Severe dehydration
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Low blood sugar
  • Generalized muscle weakness

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be performed.

Tests may include:

  • Blood and urine tests—to see if you have low levels of cortisol and aldosterone, high level of ACTH (ACTH is a hormone that stimulates the adrenal glands), and to measure levels of:
    • Anti-adrenal antibody
    • Sodium
    • Chloride
    • Calcium
    • Potassium
    • Bicarbonate
    • Blood urea nitrogen levels

  • ACTH stimulation test —measures cortisol in the blood and/or urine before and after an injection of ACTH
  • X-rays —pictures of the abdomen to see if the adrenal glands have signs of calcium deposits
  • CT scan of the abdomen—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body, in this case the adrenal glands

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2021 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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