Addison’s disease: Symptoms and causes

Other causes of adrenal gland failure may include:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Other infections of the adrenal glands
  • Spread of cancer to the adrenal glands
  • Bleeding into the adrenal glands, which may present as adrenal crisis without any preceding symptoms.

Secondary adrenal insufficiency

Adrenal insufficiency can also occur if your pituitary gland is diseased. The pituitary gland makes a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which stimulates the adrenal cortex to produce its hormones. Inadequate production of ACTH can lead to insufficient production of hormones normally produced by your adrenal glands, even though your adrenal glands aren’t damaged. Doctors call this condition secondary adrenal insufficiency.

Another more common cause of secondary adrenal insufficiency occurs when people who take corticosteroids for treatment of chronic conditions, such as asthma or arthritis, abruptly stop taking the corticosteroids.

Addisonian crisis

If you have untreated Addison’s disease, an addisonian crisis may be provoked by physical stress, such as an injury, infection or illness.

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