Symptoms of Addison's Disease
General information about symptoms of Addison's Disease: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Addison's Disease. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Addison's Disease. Furthermore, symptoms of Addison's Disease may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Addison's Disease.
List of symptoms of Addison's Disease: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Addison's Disease includes:
- Weight loss
- Muscle weakness
- Low blood pressure
- Hyperpigmentation - dark skin tanning of both external and unexposed skin areas, most noticable on skin folds, elbows, knees, knuckles, toes, lips, and mucous membranes.
- Orthostatic hypotension
- Mood changes
- Weight loss
- Anorexia (appetite loss)
- Craving salty foods
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Underarm hair loss
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Symptoms of an Addisonian crisis, the most severe result, include:
Symptoms of Addison's Disease: The symptoms of adrenal insufficiency usually begin gradually. Chronic, worsening fatigue and muscle weakness, loss of appetite, and weight loss are characteristic of the disease. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea occur in about 50 percent of cases. Blood pressure is low and falls further when standing, causing dizziness or fainting. Skin changes also are common in Addison's disease, with areas of hyperpigmentation, or dark tanning, covering exposed and nonexposed parts of the body. This darkening of the skin is most visible on scars; skin folds; pressure points such as the elbows, knees, knuckles, and toes; lips; and mucous membranes.
Addison's disease can cause irritability and depression. Because of salt loss, craving of salty foods also is common. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is more severe in children than in adults. In women, menstrual periods may become irregular or stop.
Because the symptoms progress slowly, they are usually ignored until a stressful event like an illness or an accident causes them to become worse. This is called an addisonian crisis, or acute adrenal insufficiency. In most patients, symptoms are severe enough to seek medical treatment before a crisis occurs. However, in about 25 percent of patients, symptoms first appear during an addisonian crisis.
Symptoms of an addisonian crisis include sudden penetrating pain in the lower back, abdomen, or legs; severe vomiting and diarrhea, followed by dehydration; low blood pressure; and loss of consciousness. Left untreated, an addisonian crisis can be fatal. 1
More symptoms of Addison's Disease: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Addison's Disease, underlying causes of Addison's Disease, associated conditions for Addison's Disease, risk factors for Addison's Disease, or other related conditions.
Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:
1. excerpt from Addison's Disease: NIDDK
Last revision: May 20, 2003
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