Adrenal gland secretes one of the important hormones called cortisol or stress hormone. Its deficiency can be life threatening. They present as lack of energy, tiredness, darkening of skin and slow to recover from minor illness.
These are also called the supra renal glands as they are small triangular glands which sit on top the kidneys. The make 4 different kinds of hormones as below,
- Catecholamines-These are 'stress' hormones and are released during times of stress to help the body combat extra
- Aldosterone - This hormone helps to maintain the body's salt and water levels which, in turn, regulates blood pressure.
- Cortisol- This is another hormone involved in the stress response. It also helps to regulate the body's metabolism.
- Androgens- eg, testosterone.These are involved in creating and maintaining the differences between males and females.
Disorders of Adrenal gland could again be due to over and under secretion of hormones.
- Overactive adrenal glands may produce too much cortisol which can cause a condition known as Cushing's syndrome.This results in a number of symptoms such as thinning and bruising of the skin, obesity, diabetes, moodiness or depression and high blood pressure.
- Underactive adrenal glands may not produce enough hormones which can cause a condition known as Addison's disease.This underactivity may make the individual feel unusually tired and depressed,with muscle aches and pains and a poor appetite. They may also have a stomach upset and a brown tinge to the skin.
Recent reports suggest that hormone excess (excess of aldosterone and catecholamines)may account for upto 10 % of prevalent Hypertension (high blood pressure).
Especially the following group of persons should undergo evaluation for hormonal excess
- Those having hypertension while still young (eg. 35 years of age)
- Those with difficult to control hypertension
- Those who require 3 or more medications to control BP
- Those having sudden on & off rise in BP
- Those having significant weight gain or weight loss along with high BP
Excess aldosterone level may be caused by enlarged adrenal gland or by a small discrete tumour in adrenal gland. This type of high BP can be completely controlled by proper drugs. In many cases, surgical removal of the small adrenal tumour results in cure of high BP. Excess catecholamines are secreted by tumours called pheochrocytomas. We offer comprehensive biochemical and radiological investigations to find out causes for difficult-to- control blood pressure. Many persons with such problems have been diagnosed and successfully treated.