Addison’s Illness: Fundamentals & Potential Causes


What Is Addison’s Illness?

A method the physique retains itself in steadiness is through the use of chemical messengers referred to as hormones to control numerous features. Simply above every of your kidneys is a small adrenal gland. These glands make hormones important to a wholesome life. After they do not make sufficient of those hormones, Addison’s illness is the end result.

Addison’s illness is a uncommon situation. Just one in 100,000 folks has it. It could actually occur at any age to both males or ladies. Individuals with Addison’s illness can lead regular lives so long as they take their medicine. President John F. Kennedy had the situation.

In Addison’s illness, referred to as main adrenal insufficiency, the adrenal glands do not make sufficient of a hormone referred to as cortisol, or much less typically, a associated hormone referred to as aldosterone.

Cortisol’s most vital operate is to assist the physique reply to stress. It additionally helps regulate your physique’s use of protein, carbohydrates, and fats; helps preserve blood strain and cardiovascular operate; and controls irritation.

Aldosterone helps your kidneys regulate the quantity of salt and potassium in your physique, regulating blood quantity and conserving your blood strain below management. When aldosterone ranges drop too low, your kidneys can’t maintain your salt ranges in steadiness. This, in flip, makes your blood strain drop.


What Causes Addison’s Illness?

Most instances of Addison’s illness end result from an issue with the adrenal glands themselves (main adrenal insufficiency). Autoimmune illness accounts for 70% of Addison’s illness. This happens when the physique’s immune system mistakenly assaults the adrenal glands. This autoimmune assault destroys the outer layer of the glands.

Lengthy-lasting infections — corresponding to tuberculosis, HIV, and a few fungal infections — can hurt the adrenal glands. Most cancers cells that unfold from different components of the physique to the adrenal glands can also trigger Addison’s illness. Though uncommon, the adrenal glands will be injured because of a bacterial an infection.

Much less generally, adrenal glands will be affected by “secondary adrenal insufficiency,” which is attributable to an issue with the pituitary gland, or “tertiary insufficiency,” which is an issue with the hypothalamus, each positioned within the heart of the mind. These glands produce hormones that act as a swap and may activate or off the manufacturing of hormones in the remainder of the physique. A pituitary hormone referred to as ACTH is the swap that activates cortisol manufacturing within the adrenal gland. If ACTH ranges are too low, the adrenal glands keep within the off place.

One other explanation for secondary adrenal insufficiency is extended or improper use of steroid hormones corresponding to prednisone. Much less widespread causes embrace pituitary tumors and harm to the pituitary gland throughout surgical procedure or radiation.

A typical explanation for tertiary insufficiency is extended or improper use of steroid hormones corresponding to prednisone. Secondary adrenal insufficiency causes embrace pituitary tumors and harm to the pituitary gland throughout surgical procedure or radiation.


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