Glossary On Symptoms of Addison’s disease

“If only one could be alert enough to notice the gradual changes in health and treat them in time”.

The symptoms of Addison’s disease are very gradual in onset and this is precisely why it goes unnoticed in majority of cases until it reaches a critical stage. The common symptoms include:

  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue that worsens over a period of time
  • Slow, sluggish movements
  • Low blood pressure - this falls still further on standing up causing fainting or dizziness
  • Skin changes - Unnaturally dark skin in some places (exposed as well as non-exposed areas). The darkening is more prominent on skin folds, knuckles, toes, knees, elbows and sometimes even on lips and mucus membranes. The skin appears very patchy overall.
  • Paleness
  • Loss of appetite, chronic diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mouth lesions on the inside of cheeks
  • Salt craving (which occurs due to loss of salt from the body)
  • Low blood glucose levels
  • Menstrual periods may become irregular or altogether stop
  • Irritability and depression

Addisonian Crisis:

On account of the gradual progress of symptoms, Addison’s disease often goes unnoticed until there is a stressful event like an accident or a severe illness. This triggers off an ‘addisonian crisis’ or acute adrenal insufficiency which is a medical emergency. The symptoms of an addisonian crisis include:

  • Sudden penetrating pain in the lower back, abdomen or legs
  • Severe diarrhea and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Acute fall in blood pressure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Difficulty in breathing

If left untreated, an addisonian crisis can prove to be fatal.

Addison's Disease