The adrenal glands are small and are located above each kidney. The adrenal glands are our endocrine glands that produce hormones. Even though they are small, about the size of your thumb, the hormones produced are important in controlling blood pressure, our water balance, our chemical balance, glucose, and your “fight or flight”reaction. The hormones produced include cortisol, aldosterone, the adrenaline hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine. The adrenal gland also produces your body’s sex hormones.
Adrenal gland symptoms
Adrenal gland problems usually occur when a mass or tumor forms on the gland. Most masses are benign and not cancerous.
Patients with adrenal gland problems may have a variety of symptoms related to excess hormone production.
- Pheochromocytomas produce excess hormones that can cause very high blood pressure, headaches, excessive sweating, anxiety, palpitations, and rapid heart rate off and on.
- Aldosterone producing tumors cause high blood pressure and low potassium levels. This sometimes causes weakness, fatigue, and frequent urination.
- Cushing’s syndrome is too much cortisol. Usual symptoms are: obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, menstrual irregularities, and fragile skin. Most cases of Cushing’s syndrome, are caused by small pituitary tumors. Adrenal glands only cause Cushing’s in about 20% on patients.