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Addison's disease

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Addison's disease or primary adrenocortical deficiency results from destruction of the adrenal cortex. Glucocorticoid, mineralocorticoid and sex steroid production are all reduced.

It is a rare condition with a prevalence of 93-140 per million people and an annual incidence of 4.7-6.2 per million people in Western populations (1).

  • in UK Addison’s disease affects around 1 in 10,000 individuals with an estimate of around 8400 currently diagnosed cases (2)
  • according to a recent epidemiological study the incidence of Addison’s disease is on the rise (1)
  • may occur at any age but commonly seen between the ages of 30-50 years (2)
  • women are affected more than men (3)

Autoimmune adrenalitis accounts increasingly for the condition as tuberculosis has become less common.

The disease may remain subclinical for a long period of time (4).

Notes (5):

  • primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency share many clinical features - however, they differ in that only primary adrenal insufficiency is characterized by mineralocorticoid deficiency and by hyperpigmentation


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