Adrenal gland disorders can affect your entire body, depending on the hormone that’s affected and whether the problem causes abnormal hormone levels. Anna Boron, MD, at Arkangel Endocrinology & Diabetes in Phoenix, Arizona, creates a customized treatment plan based on each patient’s health and teaches the self-care tips needed to maintain their wellbeing. To schedule an appointment, call the office or use the online booking feature.
The adrenal glands release hormones that are essential for your health and wellbeing.
Cortisol regulates your metabolism, suppresses inflammation, regulates blood pressure, increases blood glucose levels, and helps control your sleep/wake cycle. It’s known as the stress hormone because larger amounts are released when you face stress.
This hormone has a primary role in regulating blood pressure, blood pH, and levels of sodium and potassium.
The adrenal glands produce weak male hormones that are converted into estrogen in the ovaries and into androgens in the testes.
Both hormones prepare your body to react to a threat or stress by increasing your heart rate, boosting blood flow to your muscles and brain, and assisting in glucose metabolism.
Primary adrenal insufficiency, or Addison’s disease, occurs when an autoimmune disorder damages your adrenal glands. As a result, the glands don’t produce enough cortisol.
When you lack cortisol, you’ll develop symptoms such as:
Primary adrenal insufficiency often causes salt cravings, dehydration, low blood pressure, and skin darkening. Secondary adrenal insufficiency is more likely to cause low blood sugar.
Adrenal gland disorders may develop due to a problem in the adrenal glands or the pituitary gland, since it sends out hormones that activate the adrenals.
The adrenal glands may develop benign or cancerous nodules that actively produce hormones.
Cushing syndrome occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. It leads to weight gain and fatty deposits in the face, back of the neck, and abdomen, while the arms and legs remain thin.
When the glands overproduce aldosterone, blood pressure increases and potassium levels drop.
Pheochromocytoma is an adrenal gland tumor that causes increased production of adrenaline or noradrenaline.
This genetic disorder decreases the production of cortisol, aldosterone, or both, while increasing the production of androgen, which can lead to male characteristics in girls and early puberty in boys. If the condition isn’t severe, it can go undiagnosed for years.
Adrenal cancers are rare and usually spread to other organs before they’re diagnosed. Cancerous tumors may produce and release one or more of the adrenal hormones.
If you’ve become fatigued or show any of the other symptoms of an adrenal disorder, call Arkangel Endocrinology & Diabetes or book an appointment online.