Addison's Disease | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of Addison’s disease?

Symptoms of mild Addison's disease may only be apparent when your child is under physical stress. While each child may experience symptoms differently, some of the most common symptoms include: 

  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • rapid pulse
  • darkening of the skin (first noted on hands and face)
  • black freckles
  • bluish-black discoloration around the nipples, mouth, rectum, scrotum or vagina
  • weight loss
  • dehydration
  • loss of appetite
  • intense salt craving
  • muscle aches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • intolerance to cold 

What causes Addison’s disease?

Addison’s disease is most often caused by the destruction of the adrenal gland due to an autoimmune response. Some cases are caused by the destruction of the adrenal glands through cancer, infection or other disease.

Other causes may include: 

  • use of corticosteroids (such as prednisone) to treat another condition, such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease or certain types of cancer 
  • use of certain medications to treat fungal infections, which may block production of corticosteroids in the adrenal glands 

In rare cases, Addison's disease is inherited as an X-linked trait, meaning that the gene responsible for the condition is located on the X chromosome and passed down from a mother to her child. In this form, symptoms typically begin in childhood or adolescence.