The Adrenal Glands

Those two tiny glands that take up residence at the top of your kidneys have a powerful job to do. Most people never realize their importance to the body, and many don’t even know what they are or where they are located.

The adrenal glands are two small triangular vital parts, sometimes called suprarenal glands, on each side of the body. Located just above the kidneys each one measures approximately two by one inches.

Each gland is composed of two separate parts:

The Medulla

The medulla secretes a chemical matter known as adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenalin (norepinephrine). These hormones are then secreted into the bloodstream.

Some effects of adrenalin and noradrenalin:

By increasing the force of contraction, they stimulate the heart.
They increase the rate of coagulation of the blood.
They make sugar more available to the tissues by increasing the contraction of sugar in the blood.
They cause blood vessels to contract.
They decrease muscular fatigue.
Adrenalin gets the body ready to respond to danger or stress. This secretion prepares the body for what is known as “fight” or “flight.” In other words, when your body is in danger it must either stay and “fight” or “flight” to get out of danger as fast as possible.

Can you develop a tumor on the adrenal glands?
Yes. Sometimes a tumor known as pheochromocytoma can occur inside the medulla of the adrenal gland.

Symptoms of pheochromocytoma:

Elevated blood pressure.
Anxiety attacks.
Overactive metabolism.
Elevated blood sugar.
Treatment of pheochromocytoma:
Treatment consists of surgical removal of the tumor through an incision made in the flank or abdomen.

The Cortex

The Cortex is the outer portion of the adrenal gland. It is of great importance because it constructs hormones that influence the following body functions:

The storage and maintenance of the body’s sugars, proteins and fats.
The secretion of certain male and female sex hormones.
The manufacture of chemicals influencing the body’s reply to stress and injury.
The balance of the body’s water and minerals.
The adrenal glands are important to the continuation of life. Their total removal will lead to loss of weight, weakness and eventually to death unless cortisone is given on a continual basis to maintain proper levels of salt and water in the blood. Addison’s disease is a condition in which there is a chronic insufficiency of the function of the adrenal cortex. It is rare and only occurs in about one in a hundred thousand people.

Symptoms of Addison’s disease:

A gradual increase of fatigue and feebleness.
Loss of appetite.
Weight loss.
Nausea and vomiting.
An unusual discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes.
If Addison’s disease is not treated, it can become fatal. It can be successfully treated by replacing the hormones that are not being made by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is replaced by taking it orally once or twice a day to correct adrenal deficiency.

If you suspect you have a problem with your adrenal glands or even Addison’s disease, contact your physician immediately.

With early detection and proper treatment you can continue to live your life in a more successful way, knowing you are working with your body to maintain its proper function.