What are the signs of adrenal gland problems?

Adrenal gland symptoms are related to the production of too many or too few hormones by the adrenal glands, which are hormone-producing organs located near the tops of both kidneys. Hormones from the adrenal glands are responsible for many functions. For example, adrenaline controls the body’s fight-or-flight responses, while male sex hormones, such as androgens, control parts of human development. Additional hormones from the adrenal glands function in metabolism, blood pressure regulation, and many other normal functions in several different organ systems.

Improper functioning of the adrenal glands can arise from multiple causes and leads to a wide variety of symptoms. Cushing’s syndrome is related to the overproduction of cortisol (a hormone produced by the adrenal gland). Cushing’s syndrome can result from problems with the pituitary gland, which can then overstimulate the adrenal gland to make extra cortisol. Pheochromocytoma is a rare, usually benign tumor of the inner portion of the adrenal gland that leads to high blood pressure

Hyperaldosteronism is a disease in which the body overproduces aldosterone, leading to high blood pressure. Addison’s disease, or adrenal insufficiency, occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce sufficient levels of hormones. It can be caused by a number of conditions that damage the hormone-producing areas of the gland.

Adrenal gland cancers are extremely rare, and can lead to high levels of any of the many adrenal hormones. A wide variety of symptoms are possible, so evaluation by an endocrinologist is important. Generally, surgical intervention and chemotherapy are used to treat the cancer. Subsequent hormone therapy may also be necessary.

While adrenal gland disorders are usually slow to develop and not serious, in some cases, endocrine disorders can affect the circulatory system, leading to serious consequences. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, such as sudden chest pain, difficulty breathing, sudden changes in mental status, or sudden changes in speech and vision.

Seek prompt medical care if you suspect you have an adrenal gland disorder, as an endocrinologist will be able to properly evaluate your condition.


What are the symptoms of adrenal gland disorders?

Symptoms of adrenal gland disorders are dependent on the part of the adrenal glands affected and the hormones produced. In many cases, mild hormone overproduction will not lead to symptoms. Symptoms can fall into a variety of categories, such as:

Common symptoms of Cushing’s disease

The symptoms of Cushing’s di... Read more about adrenal gland symptomssymptoms


What causes adrenal gland disorders?

In many cases of hormone excess, adrenal gland disorders arise from either a benign growth or tumor of the adrenal glands. These conditions are not hereditary, and in many cases, the cause of the tumor or growth is not known. Specific adrenal gland disorders can result from various causes including:

Causes of Cushing’s syndrome

Cortisol overproduction can arise from pro... Read more about adrenal gland symptomscauses


How are adrenal gland disorders treated?

In mild cases, adrenal gland disorders may require no treatment. When high blood pressure or diabetes arises from adrenal gland disorders, medication to control these conditions may be administered. In severe cases, the tumor or growth leading to adrenal gland malfunction may be surgically removed. In cases of adrenal ca... Read more about adrenal gland symptomstreatments

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jul 29, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

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