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Disease Fears

A reader wonders if their father’s disease is hereditary. 

QUESTION:

My father died when I was a child and I have just discovered he suffered from Addison’s Disease. Is it hereditary?

ANSWER:

Addison’s Disease is rare (one in 100,000), occurs at any age and affects both genders. It causes weight loss, weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure and often, darker skin.

The adrenal glands fail to produce adequate levels of the hormone cortisol, which affects nearly all of the body, especially the response to stress.

Most cases (70 per cent) follow slow destruction of the adrenal glands by the body’s immune system. Relatives can share a tendency towards autoimmune disease.

Tuberculosis accounts for about 20 per cent of cases and would have been a more frequent cause prior to the end of World War II.

The remaining 10 per cent are due to very rare conditions – some of which run in families but these usually appear in early childhood and are most unlikely in your father.

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Have you got a question you’d like us to tackle?

Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.

Relationships Australia (SA) appoints panels of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it.

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