The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys, and they regulate many processes within the body. There is a connection between the adrenal glands and the pituitary gland, with ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone) acting as the messenger. The adrenal gland is responsible for secreting many different types of hormones that have their own functions. Below are a few of the hormones that are secreted by the adrenal glands.
- Cortisol is a main example of a glucocorticoid. Also known as “the stress hormone”, Cortisol tries to protect the body from exhaustion by supplying glucose to cells, decreasing inflammation, and maintaining a normal blood pressure. An excess of cortisol can cause elevated blood sugars, leading to diabetes and hypertension if not controlled.
- Aldosterone is a main example of a mineralocorticoid. It’s main function is to conserve sodium and water from the kidneys, especially if there is decreased blood volume. An excess of aldosterone can lead to hypertension that is not normally controlled with traditional blood pressure medications.
- Androgens are sex hormones secreted by the adrenal glands, but the main contributors of testosterone and estrogen come from the testes and ovaries. Adrenal androgen is mostly testosterone, and it plays a role in puberty for both girls and boys.
When there is miscommunication between the adrenal glands and pituitary gland, these hormones could end up being overproduced or under-produced. Over-stimulation of the adrenal gland can lead to Cushing’s syndrome or hyperaldosteronemia, whereas under-stimulation can result in Addison’s disease. An endocrinologist is a specialist of the adrenal glands, and they collaborate with their patients to ensure that the right medications are providing the best long-term results.