The Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys. They are responsible for making hormones that help with maintaining normal blood pressure, blood sugar, and electrolytes. Sometimes, the adrenal glands can produce too little hormone, causing adrenal insufficiency. Conversely, there can be tumors on the adrenal gland that produce too much hormone which can also cause issues.
Sometimes the adrenal gland is attacked by one’s own immune system, which is also known as Addison’s disease. People with Addison’s disease can present with low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and darkening of their skin. Other causes of adrenal insufficiency can be pituitary in origin or from withdrawal from long term steroid usage.
Adrenal tumors are diagnosed with a CT scan as well as bloodwork and urine studies to assess the various adrenal hormones. Adrenal insufficiency is diagnosed by bloodwork, a thorough history, and a complete physical exam.
Most of the functional adrenal tumors need to be surgically removed. On occasion, medical treatment can be sufficient. Adrenal insufficiency is treated with oral steroids.
At Carolina Endocrine Associates, we are experienced in all the various adrenal disorders. We will perform a comprehensive workup related to the adrenal disease. We will also work with each patient to develop an individualized treatment plan which may include further testing, medications, and possibly surgery. If surgery is needed, we will refer the patient to an experienced, highly skilled surgeon.