Adrenal glands (or also called suprarenal glands) are located on the top of the kidneys. These triangular shaped endocrine glands are responsible for the production of catecholamines, corticosteroids and sex steroids (sex hormones). All these hormones are included in different important processes in the body, including: the reaction to stress and regulation of electrolyte and water balance, blood sugar level or inflammation. Adrenal hormones are also known to help maintaining pregnancy and initiate and control sexual maturation.
What are Adrenal Gland Disorders?
Improper function of adrenal glands is the most important cause of adrenal disorders. Another reason might be some other gland, responsible for the control of adrenal glands. Some of the well known adrenal gland disorders are: congenital adrenal hyperplasia, Cushing’s syndrome and pituitary tumors.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a genetic problem, when the body doesn’t produce enough cortisol and sometimes not enough aldosterone. However, these patients may experience overproduction of male sexual hormones (androgens).
Cushing’s syndrome is a different type of problem, caused by too much cortisol produced by the body. This condition might be caused by some medications, adrenal tumors or sometimes by adrenal hyperplasia.
Since the pituitary gland has the responsibility to regulate the activity of adrenal glands, some pituitary tumors, especially benign ones may affect adrenal glands. Cushing’s disease is actually Cushing’s syndrome provoked by pituitary tumor. These tumors may also lead to Addison’s disease, reducing the amount of stress related adrenal hormones. The body of Addison’s disease patients is unable to fight even some physiological stress and because of that the condition might be lethal.
Are These Adrenal Disorders Treatable
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is not something doctors can cure. The condition is, however, treatable. The treatment depends on a person, and it usually consists of replacement drugs to compensate natural lack. Some patients must use these medications every day, while others are required to take these when not feeling well. Whatever the case, your doctor should decide about the treatment.
Cushing’s syndrome is treated according to the cause. If it was caused by too much cortisol, doctors may recommend some medications, radiation and/or surgery. When drugs provoked Cushing’s syndrome, the usual treatment is the decrease of the dose or a change of used medications.
Pituitary tumors are in most cases taken care with some surgical procedure, especially if the tumors grow very fast. Other treatment choices can include: medications, radiation therapy or microsurgery, and the therapy is based on the type of the tumor and its size.