How will my doctor know I have Addison’s disease?
Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and your symptoms. He or she may also perform laboratory tests to determine whether you have Addison’s disease:
- Blood tests: Tests that measure the levels of sodium, potassium, cortisol and ACTH in your blood can help your doctor know whether an adrenal insufficiency is causing your symptoms. Your doctor can also use a blood test to see if an autoimmune disease is the possible cause of your Addison’s disease.
- ACTH stimulation test: Your doctor may test your body’s ability to secrete cortisol in response to an injection of synthetic ACTH. This will check to see if your adrenal glands are damaged. In a healthy person, cortisol levels rise after the ACTH injection.
- Insulin-induced hypoglycemia test: If your doctor suspects pituitary gland disease, he or she may test your blood sugar and cortisol levels at various points after an injection of insulin. Normally, glucose levels fall and cortisol levels rise after an insulin injection.
- Imaging tests: Your doctor may want to do a computerized tomography (CT) scan to check the size of your adrenal glands or pituitary gland and look for problems that could help identify the cause of your adrenal insufficiency.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff