The adrenal gland, located above
the kidneys, is part of the endocrine system and is responsible
for hormone production. The two triangular shaped adrenal glands
are affected in a condition known as Addison's disease. Each of
the adrenal glands is divided into an outer adrenal cortex and an
inner adrenal medulla. The cortex and medulla of the adrenal gland
secrete different hormones. The inner part of the adrenal (medulla)
produces epinephrine also called adrenaline, which is produced at
times of stress, and helps the body respond to "fight"
and "flight" situations. The lack of epinephrine production
in the medulla is not a contributing factor in Addison's disease.
The inner portion of the adrenal (cortex) is more critical. The
adrenal cortex makes two important steroid hormones, cortisol and
aldosterone. Addison's Disease (adrenal fatigue) is a severe or
total deficiency of hormones made in the adrenal cortex. Cortisol
metabolizes nutrients, stimulates the liver to raise the blood sugar,
and modifies the body's ability to respond to inflammation. Aldosterone
controls salt water levels, which affect the blood volume and blood
These glands have an impact on mental state. People with Addison's
disease become less tolerant and they get easily frustrated. Adrenal
fatigue can lead toward increased fears, anxiety, and depression.
If a person is consistently under stress the adrenal glands can
be compromised. The most common cause of Addison's disease results
from an autoimmune reaction in which the body's immune system erroneously
makes antibodies against cells of the adrenal cortex and eventually
destroys them. Some of the less common causes include certain fungal
infections and cancer cells that have spread from other parts of
the body, usually the breast. Addison's disease is a rare disorder
that has been linked to tuberculosis.
Addison's disease is treated by steroid replacement therapy. For
proper maintenance, regular visits to a physician are required to
run tests and examinations. There are no specific physical or occupational
restrictions. As long as administered dose replacement medications
are taken everyday, a person suffering from Addison's disease can
have normal life expectancy.