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Anatomy of the Adrenal Glands

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Adrenal Fatigue For Dummies

The easy way to take charge of your adrenal health Despite their small size, the adrenal glands play an important role in the body, producing numerous hormones that impact our development and growth, affect our ability to deal with stress, and help to regulate kidney function. As an example, for the adrenal gland to produce cortisol, the following occurs:.

The hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormone CRH that stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticotropin hormone ACTH. Normally, both the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland can sense whether the blood has the appropriate amount of cortisol circulating.


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This is referred to as a negative feedback loop. Excess cortisol production can occur from nodules in the adrenal gland or excess production of ACTH from a tumor in the pituitary gland or other source. This mineralocorticoid hormone produced by the zona glomerulosa plays a central role in regulating blood pressure and certain electrolytes sodium and potassium.

Aldosterone sends signals to the kidneys, resulting in the kidneys absorbing more sodium into the bloodstream and releasing potassium into the urine. This means that aldosterone also helps regulate the blood pH by controlling the levels of electrolytes in the blood. These hormones produced by the zona reticularis are weak male hormones. They are precursor hormones that are converted in the ovaries into female hormones estrogens and in the testes into male hormones androgens. However, estrogens and androgens are produced in much larger amounts by the ovaries and testes.

The adrenal medulla , the inner part of an adrenal gland, controls hormones that initiate the flight or fight response. The main hormones secreted by the adrenal medulla include epinephrine adrenaline and norepinephrine noradrenaline , which have similar functions.

Adrenal Fatigue - dummies

Among other things, these hormones are capable of increasing the heart rate and force of heart contractions, increasing blood flow to the muscles and brain, relaxing airway smooth muscles, and assisting in glucose sugar metabolism. They also control the squeezing of the blood vessels vasoconstriction , helping maintain blood pressure and increasing it in response to stress. Like several other hormones produced by the adrenal glands, epinephrine and norepinephrine are often activated in physically and emotionally stressful situations when your body needs additional resources and energy to endure unusual strain.

The two common ways in which adrenal glands cause health issues are by producing too little or too much of certain hormones, which leads to hormonal imbalances. These abnormalities of the adrenal function can be caused by various diseases of the adrenal glands or the pituitary gland. Adrenal insufficiency is a rare disorder. It is the opposite of Cushing syndrome and is characterized by low levels of adrenal hormones. The symptoms include weight loss, poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, darkening of skin only in primary adrenal insufficiency , abdominal pain, among other.

https://seyberrajerle.ml The causes of primary adrenal insufficiency may include autoimmune disorders, fungal and other infections, cancer rarely , and genetic factors. Although adrenal insufficiency usually develops over time, it can also appear suddenly as an acute adrenal failure adrenal crisis. It has similar symptoms, but the consequences are more serious, including life-threatening shock, seizures, and coma. These may develop if the condition is left untreated. Adrenal insufficiency can also result from a genetic disorder called congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Children who are born with this disorder are missing an essential enzyme necessary to produce cortisol, aldosterone or both. At the same time, they often experience excess of androgen, which may lead to male characteristics in girls and precocious puberty in boys. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia can remain undiagnosed for years depending on the severity of the enzyme deficiency.

In more severe cases, infants may suffer from ambiguous genitalia, dehydration, vomiting and failure to thrive.

How to Recognize and Treat Adrenal Fatigue

Sometimes, adrenal glands may develop nodules that produce too much of certain hormones. Nodules 4 centimeters or larger and nodules that show certain features on imaging increase suspicion for malignancy. Both benign and cancerous nodules may produce excessive amounts of certain hormones, which is referred to as a functional nodule. Functional tumors, malignant tumors or nodules greater than 4 centimeters are recommended to be referred for surgical evaluation.

Cushing syndrome results from excessive production of cortisol from the adrenal glands. The symptoms may include weight gain and fatty deposits in certain areas of the body, such as the face, below the back of the neck called a buffalo hump and in the abdomen; thinning arms and legs; purple stretch marks on the abdomen; facial hair; fatigue; muscle weakness; easily bruised skin; high blood pressure; diabetes; and other health issues. Excess cortisol production can also be triggered by overproduction of ACTH by a benign tumor in the pituitary gland or tumor elsewhere in the body.