What are adrenal glands?
The adrenal glands are small glands located on top of each kidney. Also called as suprarenal glands, adrenal glands consists of outer cortex and inner medulla Hormones produced by cortex are : glucocorticoids(cortisol), mineralocorticoids and androgens. Medulla produces epinephrine and nor epinephrine. Cortisol helps you respond to stress and has many other important functions.
Two major disorders of adrenal glands are: Addison’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome: characterized by high blood levels of cortisol over an extended period of time with characteristic changes in the body. People with Cushing’s typically have a rounded “moon” face, gain weight around the trunk, and have slender arms and legs. Their skin is often thin and can have a bruised appearance with stretch marks. Other features include muscle weakness, susceptibility to infection, elevated blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), and weak bones (osteoporosis). These changes are often accompanied by mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. In children, excess cortisol can lead to stunted growth. Furthermore, men can exhibit reduced fertility and libido, while women can exhibit hirsutism (excess facial and/or body hair)and menstrual disorders .Excess secretion of adrenal androgens may also lead to virilization (presence of external male characteristics in females or in boys before puberty).
Addison’s disease: An uncommon, debilitating disease that is rarely identified in its early stages. In Addison’s disease, the function of the adrenal cortex progressively declines over time, resulting in adrenal hormone deficiency.The typical early symptoms of Addison’s disease are weakness, low blood pressure upon standing, and fatigue. People with Addison’s disease gradually develop an often heavy pigmentation of the skin (especially around bony prominences, skin folds, and on the back of arms and legs) and a bluish discoloration of the mucous membrane lining the mouth . Cortisol and aldosterone deficiency together cause changes in blood levels of sodium and potassium and a decrease in plasma volume, which can lead to extreme dehydration and shock. Trauma, surgery, and infections in people with reduced adrenal function may result in adrenal crisis, a life-threatening condition that can lead to extreme weakness, severe body pain, low blood pressure, and fever