The two adrenal glands are part of the body's endocrine system. They are orange, triangular-shaped glands that are located directly on the top of the kidneys. These glands produce adrenalin, which consists of norepinephrine and epinephrine. They also produce aldosterone and cortisone. Tumours on the adrenal glands may result in the overproduction of adrenalin, resulting in a condition known as pheochromocytoma. Tumours can also cause an overproduction of cortisol, resulting in Cushing's syndrome.
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Symptoms of Pheochromocytoma
When a tumours form in the central part of the adrenal gland, pheochromocytoma may develop. Symptoms of this condition include headache, anxiety, excessive sweating, tremors, racing heartbeat, intolerance to heat, weight loss, lower chest or abdominal pain and nausea. Uncontrollable hypertension may also be a sign on pheochromocytoma.
Diagnosis and Treatment
This condition can be diagnosed by analysing 24 hours worth of urine samples to look for excess catacholamines and metanaphrines in the urine. Also, a blood test can be used to check for excess adrenalin chemicals in the blood. X-rays may be used to look for evidence of a tumour. The treatment for pheochromocytomas involves surgical removal of the tumours.
Symptoms of Cushing's Disease
Cushing's syndrome occurs when a tumour causes the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol. Symptoms of Cushing's syndrome include hypertension, osteoporosis, menstrual irregularity, glucose intolerance, kidney stones and obesity. Weight gain may accumulate mostly around the waste and on the upper back area. Other symptoms may include flushing of the face, fatigue, stretch marks, anxiety, depression and acne.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Cushing's syndrome an be diagnosed by anayzing a 24-hour urine sample to determine how much cortisol is being excreted. Also, a CAT scan or MRI may be used to look for tumours in the adrenal glands. Treatments for Cushing's syndrome include either removing the tumours or treating the tumours with radiation therapy.
Adrenogenital syndrome or precocious puberty may occur if a tumour causes the overproduction of sex hormones. Virilisation may occur if a tumour causes the overproduction of testosterone in females. Feminisation may occur if a tumour causes the overproduction of too much oestrogen in males. Conn's syndrome may occur if a tumour causes the overproduction of aldosterone. Conn's disease is characterised by low potassium and high blood pressure.
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