What hormone causes Addison’s disease?

Addison’s disease, also known as primary adrenal insufficiency, is primarily caused by a deficiency or absence of adrenal hormones, particularly cortisol and aldosterone. The hormone cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, which are small glands located on top of the kidneys. Aldosterone is another hormone produced by the adrenal glands that helps regulate salt and water balance in the body.

The main cause of Addison’s disease is autoimmune destruction of the adrenal cortex, the outer layer of the adrenal glands, leading to decreased production of cortisol and aldosterone. In autoimmune Addison’s disease, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the adrenal cortex, impairing its ability to produce hormones.

Less commonly, Addison’s disease can also be caused by other factors, including:

  1. Infections: Certain infections, such as tuberculosis, fungal infections, or HIV/AIDS, can affect the adrenal glands and lead to adrenal insufficiency.
  2. Adrenal Gland Damage or Surgical Removal: Trauma, bleeding, tumors, or surgical removal of the adrenal glands can result in decreased hormone production and lead to adrenal insufficiency.
  3. Genetic Disorders: In rare cases, genetic disorders such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia or adrenoleukodystrophy can cause adrenal insufficiency.

In all cases of Addison’s disease, the underlying factor is the insufficient production of cortisol and aldosterone. Without adequate levels of these hormones, various symptoms and complications can arise, such as fatigue, weight loss, low blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances, and changes in skin pigmentation.

Diagnosis and management of Addison’s disease require medical evaluation and treatment by healthcare professionals, typically with the administration of hormone replacement therapy to replace the deficient cortisol and aldosterone.

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