How To Lose Weight With Addison’s Disease In 5 Easy Ways?

Addison’s disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency, is a rare disorder of the adrenal gland. When enough cortisol and a low amount of aldosterone are not produced, it causes this disease. 

These are the steroid hormones that have major functions in controlling metabolism, immune functions, salt, and water balance. They even influence the development of sexual characteristics, ability to withstand illness, and injuries. 

One of the prime complaints from patients having Addison’s disease is “How to lose weight with Addison’s disease?” Despite having an endocrine system disorder, weight loss has successfully gained the spotlight. 

how to lose weight with Addison's disease
Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

What Exactly Causes Addison’s Disease?

There are two glands on the top of our kidneys called the adrenal glands or the suprarenal gland. These are triangular and produce hormones that are required for major metabolic activities. Adrenal glands produce key hormones called Mineralocorticoids like cortisol, aldosterone, epinephrine, norepinephrine, etc. 

When the glands fail to produce these hormones according to the body’s demand, it is called Addison’s disease. It was named after British Physician Thomas Addison in 1855 after he described the condition in On the Constitutional and Local Effects of Disease of the Suprarenal Capsules. 

Causes

The adrenal gland comprises two sections called medulla (inner layer) and cortex (outer layer). The medulla produces adrenaline-like hormones, and the cortex produces a group of hormones called corticosteroids. These are

  • Glucocorticoids– helps in carbohydrate metabolism
  • Mineralocorticoids– helps in maintaining the balance between sodium and potassium through hormones aldosterone
  • Androgen– develops secondary sexual characteristics

Primary adrenal insufficiency

As the cortex of the adrenal gland is damaged, it fails to produce enough adrenocortical hormones. The most common cause is an autoimmune disease. This may lead to Addison’s disease. Another important reason for Addison’s disease is Tuberculosis. 

Secondary adrenal insufficiency:

Adrenocorticotropic hormones (ACTH) released by the pituitary gland stimulate the adrenal cortex and produce hormones. Sometimes due to tumors in the pituitary gland, the release of ACTH can be suppressed. Hence, Addison’s disease can be caused. 

Symptoms of Addison’s Disease 

These are a few symptoms that can make you understand if you have Addison’s disease. But do consult a doctor before you’ve self-diagnosed yourself.

  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Darkening Of The Skin Folds (Hyperpigmentation)
  • Salt Craving
  • Severe Weight Loss And Decreased Appetite
  • Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Muscle Pain
  • Joint Pain 
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Body Hair Loss
  • Sexual Dysfunctionality
  • Menstrual Problems 

Now that you’re clear with what exactly Addison’s disease entails. Let’s see why losing weight is caused by it. It will make things easier for you to handle how to lose weight with Addison’s disease.

Weight Loss and Addison’s Disease?

Addison’s disease generally causes severe weight loss. But, with low cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone, you can gain weight at times. 

Cortisol aids in regulating carbohydrate metabolism. It cuts the additional carbohydrate and lowers the appetite. In a hyperarousal state, you might be feeling hungry for low cortisol and eat more. Your appetite will make you crave more food. This can cause weight gain despite having Addison’s disease. 

A patient having Addison’s disease loses weight due to anorexia and vomiting. Usually despite intaking more food than usual. Keeping these facts aside, fatigue and sluggishness also make people wary of being active. 

Their usual activities are hampered, and they incline towards a sedentary or inactive lifestyle due to which weight gain occurs.

When you gain weight despite having Addison’s disease, you should be more focused on reducing it and maintaining a proper BMI. This is because your hormones are already messed up, and so is your physique.

How to Lose Weight with Addison’s Disease

We are torn in between what exactly to pivot on while addressing the question. Is it the diet? But you can not have quite a number of foods already for Addison’s. Is it the workout? You can not do that either since any strenuous activity will increase your cortisol level.

Adopt a Proper Diet 

When on a diet, it is important to be adjustable to what your doctor suggests. What you eat is very important in Addison’s disease. 

Your diet must include foods that maintain the equilibrium of your body in Addison’s disease. Avoiding the Addisonian crisis is the ultimate goal. So you should consider having.

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Fortified foods
  • Water

Even though it becomes difficult for an Addison’s patient to reduce weight, he or she can begin with the following:

diet for how to lose weight with Addison's disease
Photo by Foodie Factor from Pexels

Monitor Your Diabetes

Addison’s disease occurs more frequently in people having Type 1 diabetes as both are part of autoimmune polyendocrine disorders. For losing weight, keep an eye on your diabetes and maintain it thereby.

Cortisol will stress you out, and insulin will besmirch the glucose levels. It becomes easier if you have both of these in control to lose weight.

Light Home Workouts

As mentioned before, arduous exercises will increase your cortisol and make you stressed. Stress will trigger the need to have more relief food. To summarize, you will gain weight. In Addison’s disease, you must avoid stress.

So you tone yourself up or to lose weight, do some freehand exercise. They will work just fine!

Avoid Stress

Addison’s or not, stress is a silent killer for everyone. It makes you procrastinate more, eat more and wear you out. Weight gain becomes inevitable. So stop worrying so much!

Forget Sugar

Whether you have or you do not have Addison’s disease, steering clear from sugar is the first thing to do to initiate weight loss.

Don’t worry if you think not having sugar will weaken you. You can use sugar-free supplements to boost your health and energy. 

What Worsens Addison’s Disease?

The Addisonian crisis is a nightmare for anyone having Addison’s disease. A few habits or foods may worsen your condition if you have Addison’s disease. It may culminate in the Addisonian crisis. 

Addison’s disease, if undiagnosed or untreated, messes up with the cortisol hormone of your body. Low amounts of cortisol encompass lots of health factors that may turn out to be fatal.

It can reduce the capability of dealing with stress and anxiety. The body may fail to react with appropriate stress maneuver and cause cardiac arrest or brain stroke. 

Health conditions like diabetes, asthma, COPD, bronchitis deteriorates Addison’s disease more.

What if You’re Suffering from the Addisonian Crisis?

Addisonian crisis, acute adrenal insufficiency, or adrenal crisis is endocrinologic energy with a high mortality rate. It brings along high physiological derangements from an acute deficiency of cortisol hormone. 

This crisis is far more difficult than dealing with how to lose weight with Addison’s disease. So, Immediate medical attention is required to avoid such life-threatening situations. 

Pathophysiology

Addisonian crisis refers to acute and severe cortisol and aldosterone deficiency. As a result, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH aids in releasing adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) that upregulates cortisol production. 

Cortisol is the primary hormone that regulates stress and helps to regulate the supply of glucose. It causes multiple effects throughout the body that causes vasoconstriction, inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

It also triggers gluconeogenesis, amino acid synthesis and weakens immune response by preventing T-cell proliferation and prevents T-cell from recognizing interleukin signals. 

Further deficiency in aldosterone causes electrolyte arrangements in cases of severe adrenal gland dysfunction. Hence, sodium loss is increased along with potassium reabsorption. That results in decreased intravascular volume, vascular tone, cardiac output, renal perfusion. Ultimately this leads to hyperkalemia and metabolic acidosis. 

Circulatory collapse impairs the excretion of urinary waste and raises the blood urea and nitrogen level.

Symptoms

It is characterized by an acute change in physiologic status that rapidly progresses from nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, back pain, diarrhea, dizziness, hypotension, syncope, gradually to obtundation, metabolic encephalopathy, and shock. 

Causes

Now this sudden change can be caused by many factors. Here are a few you should look into 

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Tuberculosis
  • Family history
  • Chronic infectious adrenalitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Meningococcal meningitis causing Waterhouse-Friderichsen Syndrome and massive bilateral adrenal hemorrhage. 

In case you’re thinking that you are suffering from an Addisonian crisis. Go through the causes and think again.

How to treat Addisonian Crisis

Episodes of this Adrenal insufficiency can be numbered into Primary, secondary, and tertiary stages. The Primary stage is called Addison’s disease. It is a chronic condition and can be controlled with long-term administration of glucocorticoids via an IV or parenteral route. Other than that, do the following:

  • Fluid replacement
  • Steroid replacement
  • Vasopressor if required
  • Monitor urine output

Now, what if this adrenal insufficiency caused you to gain weight? 

How Do You Lose Weight With Adrenal Insufficiency?

You may gain weight with adrenal insufficiency disorders out of the lethargy. It is comparatively difficult to lose weight with adrenal insufficiency. But maintaining a good and dedicated routine can help you out of this situation:

  • Eat low carb or low-fat foods
  • Do cardio exercises regularly
  • Focus on abs exercises
  • Not to eat anything after 7 pm
  • Avoid weight lifting

Sometimes, hormones are injected in cases like this. For that, you can also increase your weight. Now how to get rid of that extra fat?

Losing Weight While on Hydrocortisone

The medicated version of the hormone cortisol is called hydrocortisone. It is administered to patients having adrenal insufficiency, adrenogenital syndrome, high blood calcium, dermatitis, thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, COPD, etc. 

Hydrocortisone balances the amount of cortisol in the blood. It works by calming the immune system in response to inflammation. Long-term use of hydrocortisone can develop skin conditions like acne, impetigo, rosacea, etc. 

It also induces weight gain. If you are wondering how to lose weight while on hydrocortisone, try limiting your carbohydrate food intake. Give off sugar and anything that bears artificial or additive sugars. Answering how to lose weight with Addison’s disease will be easier if you can deal with the Hydrocortisone-induced weight gain.

Live on a proportionate amount of protein, minerals, and fats. Work out regularly to see gradual changes. Remember to have more potassium-rich foods. They will flush out the surplus toxins through urine. 

And finally, you can feel yourself getting lighter and reaching your optimal weight!

What is the Most Simple Way to Stay Healthy?

FAQ

Does Addison’s Disease Cause Pain?

Specifically, Addison’s disease does not cause pain. But symptoms associated with it might. For example, joint pain and muscle pain may occur from fatigue and exhausted feeling. 

Occasionally, dehydration may cause sickness in an individual and may advance to headache or vertigo. Moreover, advanced stages of Addison’s disease can cause abdominal pain and low blood pressure. 

Does Addison’s Disease Qualify For Disability?

The Social Security Association considers Addison’s disease as a disability under endocrine disorders. The patients can apply for Social Security Security Disability Insurance. 

The insurance includes services like long term hormone replacement facilities, medical insurance, and other health facilities. 

Do You Always Lose Weight With Addison’s Disease?

Simply put, no you do not. It is common to feel fatigued and worn out for an Addison’s disease patient. This happens for the anorexia and vomiting that the aforementioned patient feels. 

On the other hand, the cortisol levels lower in Addison’s disease patient, his glucose level rises up. The cells of his body can become resistant to insulin and progress to Type 2 diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes can initiate weight gain. Hence it is not necessarily true that you will lose weight with Addison’s disease. 

How Long Will it Take to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

Can You Lose Weight If You Have Adrenal Fatigue?

Addison’s disease makes a mess of your hormone levels. Your cortisol is at threat, so is your insulin. You’re endangered with multiple health effects that bother your physiological and psychological stability. 

In addition to all of that, hormones play a vital role in overeating and weight gain. Patients with adrenal fatigue feel too tired and worked out. Lethargy makes them unable to exercise. A vicious cycle where weight loss becomes an extreme sport drains out all the energy of the body. 

Ending

To address the question “How to lose weight with Addison’s disease” is to simply take care of your associated disorders. If Addison’s isn’t strong enough to harm you, diabetes will gladly accept the lead to take care of your related disorders. 

Go easy with your body. Practice leading a stressful life!

Nuha Adila

I am a health enthusiast who finds fitness as a top priority in life. I like to keep a track of what I eat despite my profound attachment to any spicy food. Being a medical student, looking out for healthier food and lifestyle options has become a habit. And music inspires me while I write.

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