Can you have Addison’s for years without knowing?

Addison’s disease is a rare disorder that occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones, particularly cortisol and aldosterone. The symptoms of Addison’s disease can be subtle and may develop gradually, and some people may have mild or no symptoms at all. This can make it difficult to diagnose the condition, especially if the person is not experiencing any noticeable symptoms.

In fact, symptoms don’t usually develop until 90% of the adrenal cortex has been damaged, which can take several months to years.

Some people with Addison’s disease may not realize they have the condition because their symptoms are mild and may be attributed to other conditions or life circumstances. For example, fatigue and muscle weakness are common symptoms of Addison’s disease, but these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions such as anemia, depression, or overwork. Weight loss may also be a symptom of Addison’s disease, but it can also be caused by other factors such as dieting or stress.

Darkening of the skin, particularly in areas exposed to the sun, is another common symptom of Addison’s disease. However, this symptom may be subtle and may not be noticed unless it is pointed out by a healthcare provider during an examination. Low blood pressure and dizziness upon standing may also be symptoms of Addison’s disease, but they can also be caused by other conditions or medications.

In some cases, Addison’s disease may be diagnosed after a person experiences a severe illness or injury, or during a routine medical examination.

If a healthcare provider suspects Addison’s disease, they may order blood tests to measure hormone levels in the body and confirm the diagnosis. If you are concerned that you may have Addison’s disease, it is important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.