Addison's Disease and Adrenal Issues- Are they ... - Thyroid UK

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Addison's Disease and Adrenal Issues-

Are they something completely apart from Thyroidism?

I read an article in a newspaper yesterday about someone with Addison's Disease and cortisol problems.It was such a shame that this was happening at such an important time in her life.I was surprised that there was not one referral to the Thyroid in the whole account,which somewhat puzzled me. My Mother was diagnosed with Addisons at around eighty years old.At that time she never said much about it but had been on hydrocortisone for about twenty years after Sheehan's Syndrome having been recognised at 60 yrs.old.... 30 years after my birth !

However,I did know of her symptoms that she had struggled with for many many years that I associated with underactive thyroid hence the recognition of my own symptoms when I first asked for a thyroid blood test twenty or more years ago.

Was I wrong in thinking there was a connection with the thyroid, hence no reference to it in the report?

14 Replies

Hi Marfit,

They are separate issues but having Addison's, an autoimmune disease, can lead to development of hypothyroidism, pernicious anaemia and vitiligo.

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to Clutter


I think it might be misguided to say that Addison's is an autoimmune disease. I think that Wiki is right in what it says:

Addison’s disease is named after Thomas Addison, the British physician who first described the condition in On the Constitutional and Local Effects of Disease of the Suprarenal Capsules (1855). All of Addison's six original patients had tuberculosis of the adrenal glands. While Addison's six patients in 1855 all had adrenal tuberculosis, the term "Addison's disease" does not imply an underlying disease process.

Certainly it appears that nowadays most Addison's is autoimmune in origin (maybe up to 90%), but other causes need to be considered. There is a table of causes here:


PinkNinja profile image
PinkNinja in reply to helvella

Interesting! Thank you :)

PinkNinja profile image
PinkNinja in reply to PinkNinja

I also notice that radiotherapy can be a cause of secondary adrenal insufficiency. Luckily mum had a good GP who has noticed her low sodium and is testing Thyroid (TSH and t4) and cortisol, among other things. She thinks one or both is quite likely. I wish she were my GP...

Clutter profile image
Clutter in reply to PinkNinja

Move back in with mum?

Is low sodium picked up in bloods?

PinkNinja profile image
PinkNinja in reply to Clutter

Unfortunately I can't. There isn't room for the whole family, lol. Can't afford to live in their town either unless I get a better paid job. But I love my current job :) Maybe in the future!

Low sodium is picked up in bloods. It can be an indicator of low thyroid or low cortisol in conjunction with other symptoms. Unfortunately a lot of doctors don't seen to realise this. I had low sodium when I was on levo but it seems to have mostly resolved now I am on t3 :)

Clutter profile image
Clutter in reply to PinkNinja

Thanks, Marmaris.

Clutter profile image
Clutter in reply to helvella

Thank you. I should have said that the majority of Addison's cases are autoimmune in origin.

Once you have one autoimmune disease, you are more prone to developing another so if you have Addison's or lupus, you would be more likely than another person to develop hashimoto's or other autoimmune disease.

Having hypothyroidism can tax the adrenals too hard which can result in adrenal fatigue which is not the same as Addison's but does result in low cortisol. It is usually reversible with treatment, however getting treatment on the NHS is next to impossible. Luckily most things can be done oneself. You might like to do a search for adrenal fatigue. There is a lot of info out there and many of us have suffered with it to some degree.

Carolyn x

Thank you everyone for your answers........came down to them all this morning so it's been Porridge and Addison's for breakfast !

I obviously need to do some reading.

Sadly my mum was about eighty and pretty poorly anyway when she told me " They say I have Addisons " She had been in the Norwich and Norfolk hospital to review all her medication as she was unwell.

It is all a bit of a blur now as it was at the end of the eighties and my dad was very unwell too.

Anyway,thanks again for all the input x

Hi Marfit. Didnt see the article but did the lady have primary Addisons?. Your mum (like me) had secondary Addisons caused by sheehans and pituitary problems, sheehans usually cause empty sellar did mum have mri done to see this, if so shef probably had hypopituitarism. The lady in article may have had stand alone primary Addisons thus no mention of thyroid. Like your mum it has also taken 30 years to get my diagnosis of hypopituitarism to.

in reply to rossilin600

The article was in Thursday's Daily Mail if you are able to get hold of one.

It is about a very bright sixth form student who cannot apply to Oxbridge as the stress of exams could have serious consequences for her.

It doesn't name the form of Addisons that she has but says that stressful situations such as exams and interviews could bring on an Addisonian crisis so she will have to plan and chart her revision with large periods of rest in between.She is 17 yrs. old. All a bit sad though she insists that she won't let the condition get in her way. You can only admire her.

An early study on the affects of influenza in the USA after WW1 and the great pandemic of Influenza showed that adrenal failure was a common factor in death. The adrenal glands showed 'extreme corruption'.

Adrenal complications are very common after any high stress event be it viral, bacterial, social or psychological. Adrenal support is often a key factor in allowing the thyroid to regenerate and repair.


What are your suggestions for Adrenal support ?

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