An Astonishing Medical Diagnosis

Immensely content after seeing his sister and the countryside of their ancestors, Jack left for London. His health, which had continuously troubled him, worsened. He collapsed as a result of acute nausea and low blood pressure. He recuperated at the London Clinic, where his doctors made a startling diagnosis: Addison's disease, a hormonal disorder.

QUESTION

What are the causes of Addison's disease?

Addison's disease is caused by the failure of the body to produce a sufficient level of cortisol or aldosterone. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates the body's response to stress. Aldosterone is responsible for maintaining blood pressure and balancing the body's water and salt intake.

Jack's general condition was consistent with the symptoms of the disease, which included nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and muscle weakness. The disease impaired the body's resistance to fight off infection, and before the 1930s the fatality rate was high. With the introduction of a new drug treatment, the chances of survival increased. However, a doctor told Pamela Churchill, “That young American friend of yours, he hasn't got a year to live.”

Jack, unaware of the doctor's prediction, returned from London in September aboard the Queen Mary. It was a difficult trip since the symptoms of Addison's disease still plagued him. When he reached the states, a priest gave him last rites while he was still on board the ship. Boston newspapers quickly got the news of Jack's condition, but they only noted it was the result of malaria.

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