(Adrenal Insufficiency; Adrenocortical Hypofunction; Chronic Adrenocortical Insufficiency; Hypoadrenalism)
by Michelle Badash, MS
Addison's disease is a rare disorder of the adrenal glands. With Addison's, the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone.
Addison's disease is the result of gradual damage to the outer layer of the adrenal gland. This damage may be caused by:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase your chance Addison's disease include:
Symptoms may include:
A severe complication of Addison's disease is the Addisonian or adrenal crisis. Adrenal crisis is a life threatening disorder, its symptoms include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Imaging tests evaluate the adrenal glands and surrounding structures. These may include:
Symptoms of Addison's disease can be controlled with medications. They replace the missing hormones. Medication needs to be taken for the rest of your life. They may need to be increased during times of stress.
Immediate treatment of adrenal crisis includes:
Surgery may also be needed for adrenal tumors or pituitary tumors causing the disease.
Regular blood tests are needed to monitor your response to medication. Wear a medical alert bracelet that states adrenal insufficiency or Addison's disease. This will let others know of your condition if you are unable to communicate.
There are no current guidelines to prevent Addison's disease. If you think you are at risk, talk to your doctor.
Family Doctor (American Academy of Family Physicians)
National Adrenal Diseases Foundation
The Canadian Addison Society
Adrenal insufficiency and Addison's disease. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 14, 2014. Accessed June 4, 2014.
Adrenal insufficiency in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 16, 2013. Accessed June 4, 2014.
Arlt W, Allolio B. Adrenal insufficiency. Lancet. 2003;361(9372):1881-1893.
Dorin RI, Qualls CR, Crapo LM. Diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency. Ann Int Med. 2003;138(3):194-214.
Hahner S, Allolio B. Therapeutic management of adrenal insufficiency. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009;23(2):167-179.
Salvatori R. Adrenal insufficiency. JAMA. 2005;294(19):2481-2488.
Ten S, New M, Maclaren N. Clinical Review 130: Addison's disease. J Clin Endo Metabol. 2001;86(7):2909-2922.
Thomas Z, Fraser GL. An update on the diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency and the use of corticotherapy in critical illness. Ann Pharmather. 2007;419(9):1456-65.
Wallace I, Cunningham S, Lindsay J. The diagnosis and investigation of adrenal insufficiency in adults. Ann Clin Biochem. 2009;46(Pt 5):351-367.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Last Updated: 6/4/2014
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
El contenido en este sitio es revisado periódicamente y es actualizado cuando nuevas evidencia son publicadas y resultan relevantes. Esta información no pretende ni será nunca el sustituto del consejo emitido por un profesional de la salud. Siempre busque el consejo de un doctor u otra persona calificada antes de iniciar cualquier nuevo tratamiento, o si tiene dudas respecto a una condición médica.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.