Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"How would I know if I have Addison's Disease?"
My skin started tanning really dark, and I heard from a friend about Addison's Disease. What exactly does this disease do to you? How would I get diagnosed as having it?
Addison's disease is a rare endocrine condition in which their is a deficiency in the production of adrenal gland hormones. These hormones are extremely important for metabolism, blood pressure, kidney function, and numerous other body functions. Addison's disease does in fact tend to produce an unusual darkening of the skin. Importantly, this skin darkening affects areas of the skin that do not normally get sunlight, and it usually causes darkening of scars, creases and folds in the skin (such as on the palms of the hands), and inside the mouth. It is also accompanied by other symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, dizziness, and fainting. It would be very unusual for Addison's disease to show up just as dark skin tanning without some of these other symptoms. In other words, if the skin darkening you have doesn't look like I just described and if you otherwise feel well, this is unlikely to be Addison's. If you do have these other symptoms, then you should see your primary care doctor as soon as possible. There are other causes of skin darkening. A very common one, especially in those who are overweight, is acanthosis nigricans, which is especially darkening of the back of the neck, armpits, and groin. This is a risk factor for diabetes and you should discuss it with your doctor if you think you may have it.
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