Adrenal gland


Produces cortisol and aldosterone in its cortex.

Cortisol, a glucocorticoid, is needed to prevent shock and death.

Aldosterone, a mineralcorticoid, regulates renal sodium reabsorption in exchange for potassium excretion.

Aldosterone deficiency leads to hyperkalemia.

Also called suprarenal glands are found on the top of each kidney, and are endocrine organs.

The brain’s hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, controls the production of hormones by the adrenal glands.

The hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH).

This ACTH then enters the blood stream and stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol into the blood.

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland sense the amount of hormone in the blood and reduce or increase the production of their respective secretions to maintain balance in the blood stream.

The outer part of the adrenal gland is the cortex, the largest part of the gland.

Th adrenal cortex produces corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids are cortisol, aldosterone as well as DHEA and androgenic steroids.

Cortisol regulates blood pressure, increases blood sugar, decreases bone formation and reduces inflammation, and controls circadian rhythm.

It is involved with the body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

It helps to cope with stressful or emergency situations, increasing the body’s energy level.

Aldosterone controls blood stream electrolytes-sodium and potassium-to regulate blood pressure.

DHEA and androgenic steroids are male hormones that are converted to estrogen in ovaries and testosterone in testes.

The medulla, the inner part of the adrenal gland, produces the catecholamines- epinephrine and norepinephrine.

These hormones increase heart rate, thus increasing blood going to the muscles and the brain.

If the adrenal glands does not produce enough cortisol and/or aldosterone, adrenal insufficiency-also called Addisons disease., results.

If the pituitary gland produces too little ACTH, a condition called secondary adrenal insufficiency occurs.

Symptoms of either type of adrenal insufficiency are chronic fatigue, loss of weight, appetite, abdominal pain,muscle weakness,fainting, headache, excessive sweating and depression.

Over production of adrenal hormones: excess androgenic steroids can lead to excessive male characteristics, like facial hair and baldness in both men and women, excess aldosterone produced can lead to high blood pressure and low potassium levels,

Cushing syndrome is caused by too much cortisol.

Too much cortisol, may be due to exogenous steroids used in inflammatory disorders.

Overproduction of cortisol, the Cushing syndrome can also be caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland which causes the pituitary to produce too much ACTH.

Symptoms of excess cortisone include weight gain, thinning arms and legs, fatigue, high blood pressure and easy bruising.

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