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Conditions We Treat: Adrenal Disorders

Adrenal glands are small, triangular glands located on top of both kidneys that interact with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain. The hormones secreted by the adrenal glands affect metabolism, chemicals in the blood and certain body characteristics.

When adrenal glands produce too much or too little of these hormones, they cause a shift, which can have a negative effect on an individual’s health, including his or her ability to cope with physical and emotional stress.

Adrenal Disorders:  What You Need to Know

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  • Symptoms of hormone overproduction, one cause of Cushing’s disease, can include: upper body obesity; round face; increased fat around the neck or a fatty hump between the shoulders; thinning arms and legs; fragile and thin skin; stretch marks on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms and breasts; bone and muscle weakness; severe fatigue; high blood pressure and blood sugar; irritability; and anxiety. In women, excess facial hair and irregular or stopped menstrual cycles can also occur, and men might also experience reduced sex drive and infertility.
  • Symptoms of hormone underproduction, the cause of Addison’s disease, can include: weakness, fatigue, dizziness, dark skin, weight loss, dehydration, lack of appetite, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure and low sugar levels. Women may also experience irregular or absent menstrual periods.
  • A pheochromocytoma is an adrenal gland tumor that secretes too much epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), hormones responsible for regulating heart rate and blood pressure, among other functions. Pheochromocytomas are tumors of the central portion of the adrenal gland (the adrenal medulla). The vast majority of these tumors are benign and will not come back after they are removed.
  • Treatment depends on which hormone is affected and may include surgical removal of growths or the adrenal gland(s) itself, as well as radiation, chemotherapy and drugs that block excessive production of certain hormones.

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Why choose Johns Hopkins for treatment of an adrenal disorder?

Essential to receiving the right care for your adrenal disorder is connecting with a doctor who understands your needs, is compassionate and is skilled at treating your particular illness. Our doctors are experienced in providing personalized care for adrenal disorders, including those disorders that aren’t necessarily treated by other doctors.

Accurate diagnosis of adrenal disease can be challenging, and our doctors believe that comprehensive, collaborative approaches to treating adrenal disorders lead to the best outcomes.

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