Addison’s disease: Symptoms and causes

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have signs and symptoms that commonly occur in people with Addison’s disease, such as:

  • Darkening areas of skin (hyperpigmentation)
  • Severe fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Salt cravings
  • Muscle or joint pains

Your doctor can help determine whether Addison’s disease or some other medical condition may be causing these problems.

Causes

Addison’s disease results when your adrenal glands are damaged, producing insufficient amounts of the hormone cortisol and often aldosterone as well. These glands are located just above your kidneys. As part of your endocrine system, they produce hormones that give instructions to virtually every organ and tissue in your body.

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