Adrenal Disease Q & A
What are the adrenal glands?
The adrenal glands are small organs that connect to each kidney. They produce and release sex hormones and cortisol, which helps you respond to stress. If your adrenal glands fail to function normally, it can result in adrenal disorders or disease.
What is adrenal disease?
Adrenal disease occurs when your adrenal glands produce too many or too few hormones. Some people are born with adrenal disease; others develop it due to:
- Genetic mutations
- Certain prescription medications
Adrenal disease can also occur due to a problem with another gland in your body, like the pituitary gland.
What are some common types of adrenal disease?
The team at Ally Endocrinology treats various types of adrenal disease, including:
Adrenal cancer is a rare but serious condition that causes the cells in your adrenal glands to divide uncontrollably and spread to your surrounding organs. Common symptoms of adrenal cancer include abdominal pain, weight loss, and high blood sugar.
Adrenal incidentaloma refers to adrenal tumors that are larger than one centimeter. Adrenal incidentaloma rarely presents obvious symptoms. Diagnostic imaging like CT scans or MRIs typically uncovers the growths.
Addison’s disease occurs when your adrenal glands stop producing healthy amounts of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone. The condition affects about four in every 100,000 people. Common symptoms of Addison’s disease include weakness, fatigue, weight loss, and a lack of appetite.
Cushing’s disease occurs when your body produces too much cortisol. Common symptoms include easy bruising, weak bones, weight gain, and high blood pressure. Cushing’s disease is rare, but occurs in people of all ages, from children to adults.
How is adrenal disease diagnosed?
To diagnose adrenal disease, the team at Ally Endocrinology conducts a physical exam, reviews your health history, and asks about the symptoms you’re experiencing. They then order several lab tests. Common lab tests used to diagnose adrenal disease include:
- Aldosterone test
- Cortisol test
- DHEA sulfate test
- Bone density scans
If the team suspects you have a Addison’s disease, they might recommend an ACTH stimulation test. During an ACTH stimulation test, your provider draws a sample of your blood to get a baseline measurement of your cortisol levels. Afterward, they administer an injection of cosyntropin, a synthetic hormone that triggers the production of cortisol.
About an hour later, your provider draws another sample of blood. They compare both samples and assess the levels of cortisol in each.
How is adrenal disease treated?
Treatment of adrenal disease depends on the underlying type and severity of your symptoms. Whenever possible, the team at Ally Endocrinology recommends conservative measures. Typically, this includes radiation therapy and prescription medication. If you have adrenal cancer or experience severe symptoms, the team might recommend surgery.
Don’t wait to receive treatment for adrenal disease at Ally Endocrinology. Book online to schedule an appointment or call the nearest office today.