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Disorders Affecting the Adrenal Glands

Adrenal glands, which are also called suprarenal glands, are small, triangular glands located on top of both kidneys. An adrenal gland is made of two parts: the outer region, called the adrenal cortex, and the inner region, called the adrenal medulla. The adrenal glands work interactively with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, as well as secrete hormones that affect metabolism, blood chemicals, and certain body characteristics. Adrenal glands also secrete hormones that help a person cope with both physical and emotional stress.

Hormones secreted by the adrenal glands include:

Hormones secreted by the adrenal glands also include:

Certain adrenal gland disorders are characterized by an inability of the adrenal glands to produce cortisol (also known as hydrocortisone hormone) and aldosterone, often due to certain missing enzymes (proteins that speed up or cause chemical reactions). The result is enlarged adrenal glands due to overstimulation from the hypothalamus which detects the low levels of hormones. The hypothalamus, in turn, stimulates the pituitary gland to stimulate the adrenal glands. Overstimulation of the adrenal glands can lead to overproduction of androgens, which can lead to masculinization.

Disorders of the adrenal glands require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional. Listed in the directory below are some of these disorders, for which we have provided a brief overview.

If you cannot find the information in which you are interested, please visit the Diabetes & Other Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders Online Resources page in this Web site for an Internet/World Wide Web address that may contain additional information on that topic.


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