Adrenal Gland Disorders

The adrenal glands are orange, triangular-shaped organs resting atop each of our kidneys. These glands are in charge of churning out hormones that are vital in controlling how our body works.

Each adrenal gland is comprised of two structures – the cortex and the medulla. Both regions produce hormones with different but equally important roles. The adrenal cortex or the outer region, produces cortisol and aldosterone while the inner region or adrenal medulla produces adrenaline and noradrenaline, which are responsible for our “fight-or-flight” response to stressful situations.

Cortisol helps in controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, suppresses inflammation, and regulates fat, carbohydrates, as well as proteins in our body. Aldosterone, on the other hand, is responsible for maintaining the right balance of sodium and potassium in our bodies while also helping to control the electrolyte levels in our bloodstream.

Adrenaline and noradrenaline are released by the adrenal medulla to help our body respond to stress. These hormones increase heart rate and help rush blood to the brain and muscles when needed.

Any anomaly in the production of these hormones can cause imbalances, which can further result to adrenal gland dysfunctions. Excessive or insufficient production of hormones can have a direct effect on our health and well-being. However, while most of these dysfunctions are not cancerous, abnormal growths or tumors in the adrenal glands can still lead to life-threatening diseases if left untreated.

Benign tumors to the adrenal glands are found in 1 out of 10 people who are subjected to a CT scan or MRI. This may not seem like a lot, but that does not mean these abnormalities should be taken lightly considering it can occur in people of any age, even children.

Disorders of the Adrenal Gland

Some of the more common diseases to the adrenal glands are:

It is remarkable that although small in size, the adrenal glands dictate much of the functionality of our bodies. We may not be able to physically feel the presence of these organs, but they play a much bigger role in keeping us alive.

 

Sources:

Sargis MD, PhD. (2015, April 8). An Overview of the Adrenal Glands: Beyond Fight or Flight. Retrieved from https://www.endocrineweb.com/endocrinology/overview-adrenal-glands

Office of Communications, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. (2017, January 31). What are some types of adrenal gland disorders? Retrieved from https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/adrenalgland/conditioninfo/types

Nippoldt, MD. (2017, April 12). Adrenal fatigue: What causes it? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/expert-answers/adrenal-fatigue/faq-20057906

John Hopkins Medicine. Adrenal Glands. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/endocrinology/adrenal_glands_85,p00399

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team. (2015, February 25). Key Statistics for Adrenal Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/adrenal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

 

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