The adrenal glands are a pair of small glands located on top of each kidney. They produce hormones that are essential for the body's normal functioning, including the regulation of blood pressure, metabolism, and stress response.
The adrenal gland produces four types of hormones: glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, androgens, and vasoactive hormones. Glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, help to regulate the body's metabolism, immune system, and response to stress. Mineralocorticoids, such as aldosterone, help to regulate the body's salt and water balance. Adrenal androgens play a role in maintaining bone density and muscle mass, and are involved in the body's response to stress. Vasoactive hormones such as adrenaline help to maintain blood pressure.
Various conditions can affect the adrenal gland, including tumors, infections, and autoimmune diseases. An adrenal tumor may produce excess hormones, leading to a range of symptoms, such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Some common adrenal gland disorders include:
Adrenal insufficiency: This is a condition where the adrenal gland does not produce enough hormones. It can cause fatigue, weakness, and low blood pressure.
Cushing's syndrome: This is a condition where the adrenal gland produces too much cortisol. It can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Addison's disease: This is a condition where the adrenal gland does not produce enough cortisol and aldosterone. It can cause fatigue, weight loss, and low blood pressure.
Adrenal tumours: These can be benign or malignant and may produce excess hormones or cause physical symptoms such as pain.
A urologist (such as Mr. Sewell) is a specialist in surgical procedures on the adrenal gland, and will work closely with an endocrinologist (a specialist in the management of adrenal hormone problems with medication) in order to deliver optimal management of adrenal problems.