Diseases of the adrenal glands
Diseases of adrenal glands
One of the adrenal disorders is Cushing's syndrome, caused by the overproduction of glucocorticoids, hormones produced in the adrenal cortex. In Addison's disease the cause is bilateral adrenal malfunction. The adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones, aldosterone, cortisol and sex hormones. This condition can be considered as a failure of the adrenal glands (for details see chapter Addison's disease). Another adrenal disorder is Conn's syndrome, which is caused by increased production of aldosterone.
Adrenal disorders caused by enzymatic defects
One type of adrenal gland diseases are caused by enzymatic defects. Enzymes are important proteins essential for life. Enzymes are responsible for everything that happens in our body, in our cells and outside them. The adrenal glands are full of enzymes. Just like in machines also in the human body can sometimes something malfunction. Adrenal glands, which are an important organ with internal secretion (i.e. producing hormones), are no exception. The most common enzyme defect in adrenal disorders is congenital adrenal hyperplasia (adrenal = affecting the adrenal glands, hyperplasia = adrenal enlargement). How is this adrenal disorder manifested in girls? The enzymatic defect causes that more male sex hormones (testosterone) are produced in girls. This leads to changes of the external genitalia. Under the influence of male sex hormones girls start to have more male characteristics. How is this adrenal disorder manifested in boys? Like excess of any other hormone its male characteristic effect accelerates. This adrenal disorder may be manifested on a various level of seriousness. Sometimes, for the first sight, it is not easy to distinguish "changed" sex in girls under the influence of the hormones, this is pseudohermaphroditism (actual sex is female, but sex hormones "changed" it to male). This situation can be compared to the effect of anabolic steroid abuse of women bodybuilders. Unfortunately, in this disorder the production of other adrenal hormones may be impaired with much more serious prognosis. It is a condition with impaired production of corticoids and aldosterone with symptoms similar to Addison's disease (for details see chapter Addison's disease) - extreme loss of salt and water from birth or a serious condition - difficult to manage hypertension (high blood pressure). This adrenal disorder can be diagnosed by careful examination, blood analysis and using ultrasound or other imaging methods. Treatment of adrenal diseases is essential, because the adrenal glands are essential. Treatment must be individual, its purpose is the administration of synthetic hormones that replace the missing ones and suppress the effect of testosterone. Treatment must be supervised by a specialist in endocrinology.
Among adrenal diseases dominate benign tumors that often produce active hormones. Tumor cells become independent of the controlling centers. They produce hormones, when they want and in any quantity. Symptoms are consistent with intensified effects of hormones, as listed in the chapter Adrenal glands. Rare are the so-called "silent" tumors, which are often asymptomatous and grow slowly in the tissues of the adrenal glands. Often they are revealed accidentally by renal ultrasound. Less common are malignant tumors that may constitute distant foci in other organs (metastasis). These tumors often do not produce hormones at all. They often differ from the adrenal tissue and complicate the diagnosis. Fortunately, tumors are rare diseases of the adrenal glands. Tumors can also originate from the medulla of the adrenal glands, the so-called pheochromocytoma. The cells of the medulla produce adrenaline. If a mutation occurs and the cell becomes incompetent and does what it wants due to its genetics, cells release large amounts of adrenaline in situations that are not stressful. Typical symptoms of this adrenal disorder are sudden changes in heart rate and pressure, which can grow up to values of 300/150 mmHg (normal value of pressure is around 120/80 mmHg). Patients may feel palpitations and have a feeling "that their heart will jump out of their body"; dangerous is the high blood pressure, which can subsequently lead to bleeding, heart failure, arrhythmia (when the heart does not beat regularly), life threatening can also be extreme exhaustion of the organism and low blood sugar. Other tumors are rare. Other tumor cells can metastasize in to the adrenal glands, like from the lungs, breast, and kidney. This condition is manifested by inadequate production of hormones, as listed in the chapter Adrenal glands.
Rare diseases of adrenal glands
The list of adrenal diseases is only informative and brief. Some diseases have their typical symptoms, as described in the previous paragraphs, others not. If you observe a change in your medical condition, you must not underestimate these changes and see a doctor. Important are also regular visits to your general physician. There is nothing worse than coming too late to the doctor. Therefore, take care of your health and also consider the diseases of adrenal glands.