Addison's Disease Support Group

Addison's disease (also known as chronic adrenal insufficiency, or hypocortisolism) is a rare endocrine disorder. It is estimated that it affects about 1 to 2 in 100,000 people. It occurs when the adrenal glands, seated above the kidneys, fail to produce enough of the hormone cortisol and, sometimes, the hormone aldosterone

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Could I have Addison's?

Hi all,
I have a range of symptoms, and in my infinite wisdom decided to have a look on the net at what I could 'have'. I came across Addison's disease, and scarily enough I do have a lot of similar symptoms. I really don't want to come across as a complete hypochondriac who self-diagnoses via the internet, nor do I want to insult anybody who actually has the illness by thinking I also have it, so I was hoping I could list what I have and whether anyone would be able to tell me whether I should go see a doctor about this, or whether I'm just worrying too much?

I have very low blood pressure, and I recently fainted because of this. I immediately went to see the GP, who, after ruling out hyperglycemia (or is it hypo?), signed me off sick for stress. I don't feel like I am stressed, but as I am worrying about going to work and fainting during meetings, I didn't argue.

Anyway, my low blood pressure has been a constant for much of my life. I have also suffered from palpitations, for which I was prescribed beta-blockers. The palpitations still come and go, but don't interfere with my life anymore, so I am no longer taking the blockers.

Also, I have very shaky hands (the hypochondriac that I am so severly trying to push back is obviously worried about Parkinson's).

My main complaint though, which led me to Addison's, is that I have had extreme pains in my legs for many, many years. When I was 18, I went to see a GP who told me I was just out of shape (I couldn't touch my toes because my legs hurt so much). I went to see a different GP, who said it was related to my hormones and would probably come just before my menstruation, which seemed right. I have always described the pains as growing pains. Recently, the pains have come back and will last for about four to five days. It is excruciating (I have once phone 999 because of it...) and nothing seems to help. What worries me is that I take a progesterone=only pill, hence I no longer menstruate, so really these pains shouldn't be there anymore right?

Anyway, could anyone set my mind at ease: am I making a mountain out of a mole-hill or should I go see my GP about this?

If it is the mountain/mole-hill scenario, can I sincerely apologise to all of you who do have Addison's. I don't know much about the illness but I am sure that it causes you all a lot of discomfort and problems in life, and I don't want to sound as though I think it would be a piece of cake to live with it if that makes sense.

Sorry for the long rant!!! Thanks in advance,



PS, I also get night-sweats and very shaky vision x

An ACTH panel would be a good test to get if you are worried about Addison's. That is how my son was diagnosed. All his other blood work would be normal, except for the low sodium even though he ate almost nothing but salty food because he craved it so much. His ACTH panel was ten times what a normal one should be. If you think you may have Addison's or some other endocrine disorder, don't be afraid to ask your doctor about it. Addison's is rare, and my son's pediatrician had been missing it for a long time until his abnormally dark tan finally tipped him off. Ask your doctor for an ACTH panel. The worst thing he could do is say no.

This web site is very informative about addison's Hopefully you don't have it I think foursome has very good advice for you. All the best.

Hi Jolande,
I have addisons's and I am also hypo-thyroid.
I think most of your syptoms could be thyroid related. Have you had yours checked? if so, what all tests were run?

There are a lot of things that can cause the symptoms you describe, and most doctors will look for the simple common answers first. l think Addison's Disease would be far down the list of the possibilities. I think you should look at more obvious things first. Watching your blood sugar is one of them. Are you eating properly? Drinking enough? Low blood sugar and/or dehydration can cause your problems. You said you're not taking the beta blockers anymore. Beta blockers will lower your blood pressure. They are used mostly for people with high blood pressure to do just that. If you were taking them for palpitations, they could have been lowering your blood pressure and causing your symptoms. Just FYI. THe shaking hands would go along with low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and a multitude of other things. Are you on any other medications? Many drugs cause tremors as a side effect. If your body is stressed by low blood pressure or low blood sugar, it will pump out adrenalin which can make your hands shake. There are heart conditions that cause people to drop their blood pressure and pass out. Have they ever monitored your heart rhythm? Has anyone looked at your blood counts? Anemia can cause a lot of this too. Has anyone looked at your electrolytes? Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium - if any of these are way out of wack, that can cause these symptoms as well. You might want to start with some basics, like checking your blood counts and electrolytes - basic bloodwork - and see if anything there is abnormal. The leg pain - I don't know how that fits in. I don't understand how they can blame that on your hormones. Menstrual cycles can cause a lot of abdominal cramping, bloating, fluid retention, headaches, etc. but I have not really heard of the cycles causing leg pain. Many of the things I mentioned above can. Leg pain is not a flag for addison's disease. And, be at ease about Parkinson's disease. The tremors of parkinson's are a pretty specific sort - occur at rest, and resemble the motion of 'pill rolling' - like you are rolling a pill between your thumb and fingers. They usually begin on one side, not symmetrically. Anyway, you should probably check with your doctor and let them know that you fainted. That is not normal and should be investigated. I seriously doubt you have Addison's or Parkinson's disease, but something is off. I hope you find some answers. Good luck.



addison's is a total zebra, and very hard to diagnose w/out testing.
i would suggest that you ask your internist/GP to have the testing done. it's not painful, takes only a few hours, and will tell you definitively if your cortisol is low - then you'll know for sure.

in the meantime, there are many symptoms that accompany AD (addison's disease - that's the abbreviation we use). some are listed everywhere you read about AD, and some are not, but we here have discovered that we all (or at least many of us) seem to deal with.

there are two websites that i would reccomend checking out -
one is very detailed, the other gives a great summary of AD.
they are:

obviously none of us can tell you whether or not you have AD or not, but what i can do is tell you how i felt before i was diagnosed, and what i went through. maybe you can identify with some of it? you might have some other symptoms that you don't even realize - interestingly, that's happened to me; someone might mention that they're dealing with this pain or that feeling, and all of a sudden it hits me that i am, too! i've just been so busy concentrating on everything else that i hadn't even fully noticed. it's crazy.

so, my story: i started to tire easily, and before i knew it i was just exhausted all the time. i went from sleeping 8 hours a night to more like 16-18. i had NO energy - none. i always felt like i had just run a marathon, or had been run over by a mac truck - take your pick. i was thirsty all the time, had to urinate much more often than usual, and was much warmer than usual (which was saying a lot, because i was *always* warm!). i'm pretty sure i had my joint pain then, in my knees especially, and i had abdominal pain, although much of that would later be chalked up to a spinal tumor. also low BP. i do have tremors now, but i think that's mostly from medications - i honestly wouldn't know if it's from AD or not.

i don't mean to talk all about me, but as i said, it seems the best way to me to help you out here, and you can compare your situation to mine. i hope that this was somewhat productive for you, and that you're feeling better soon! PLEASE talk to your doctors about testing for AD, and let us know what happens.

xo, misa
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