Diseases of the adrenal glands

Diseases of the adrenal glands.  Photo from www.sciencephoto.com

The adrenal glands — small paired organs located, as the name implies, above the upper pole of the kidneys.

The main objective of the adrenal glands — production hormones that regulate all the vital processes in the body. For example, glucocorticoid hormones responsible for metabolism and energy metabolism, mineralocorticoids are involved in water and salt metabolism, androgens and estrogens — are sex hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine — hormones of stress.

Adrenal disease may be caused by:

  • excessive production of ACTH by the pituitary hormone that regulates the adrenal glands (disease Cushing);
  • excessive production of hormones by the adrenal glands (eg, in their tumors);
  • ACTH deficiency — the hormone of the pituitary gland (secondary adrenocortical failure);
  • insufficient production of hormones in the adrenal glands themselves due to their damaged or missing (primary acute or chronic adrenocortical failure).

Manifestations of adrenal disease depends on what kind of hormone or hormones produced by the insufficient or excess. For example, mineralocorticoid excess causes increased blood pressure and decreased potassium levels, excess hormones causes a disturbance of sexual development, excessive hair growth on the face, etc. Life-threatening condition is acute adrenocortical failure that occurs when a sudden reduction or cessation of the production of hormones by the adrenal cortex.

If you suspect adisease adrenal gland is necessary to thedoctor-endocrinologist. Analyzing the level of hormones in the blood and urine, the results of special tests and instrumental studies (ultrasound, computed tomography, etc.) the doctor will be able to establish an accurate diagnosis and to determine the presumed cause of the disease. At deficiency of adrenal hormones patients often are appointed for life by hormonal replacement therapy drugs, with excessive production of hormones may require surgery — adrenalectomy (removal of the adrenal glands).

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