Addison’s Disease (also known as primary adrenal insufficiency) occurs when something damages the adrenal glands, and disrupts the production of corticosteroid hormones there. Consequently, insufficient amounts of these hormones are available, which results in disturbances in body chemistry and leads to a wide range of symptoms.
Symptoms of adrenal failure don’t usually appear until about 90 per cent of the adrenal tissues have been damaged. Onset may be slow, often over weeks or months, and symptoms are usually vague and variable at first, so it can be years before the condition is diagnosed. People with Addison’s Disease may feel increasingly weak, lethargic, lose their appetite and weight, and may suffer recurrent abdominal pain and vomiting. There can be hyperpigmentation, as seen in the accompanying photograph.