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Another name for the adrenal glands is the suprarenal glands and they produce the various hormones including the cortisol, aldosterone, and adrenaline. They are the small structures and are present at the top of the kidneys. Two adrenal glands are found in the human body which releases the hormones to the bloodstream. Later on, these hormones exert influences on various parts of the body. In the adults’ body, the weight of each adrenal gland is about 4-5 g.
Functions of Adrenal Glands
Each of the adrenal glands has two distinct parts, the inner part is known as the inner medulla and the outer part is the adrenal cortex. The hormones secreted by the adrenal glands acts as a chemical messenger and by acting on the various body organs enables them to function according to the requirements. The adrenal medulla produces the catecholamines which include noradrenaline, adrenaline, and small amounts of dopamine. These hormones are responsible for giving the response to the stress conditions and the response is characterized by the physiological characteristics also known as the flight or the fight response.
The adrenal cortex produces the mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, and adrenal androgens. Among the mineralocorticoids, the aldosterone is the most important one and helps to maintain the water and salt level of the body, so it has a significant role in the regulation of blood pressure. If the aldosterone is not present then there is excessive loss of salt and water from the kidney and consequently, it leads to the low blood pressure and severe dehydration.
Predominantly, the glucocorticoids produce the cortisol. This hormone gives a response to the illness and works for the regulation of the metabolism of the body. It also stimulates the production of glucose. Additionally, this hormone has anti-inflammatory effects. The adrenal androgens produce the testosterone, and the male sex hormones, especially the dehydroepiandrosterone.
Disorders Associated with Adrenal Glands
Sometimes, there can be an overproduction of aldosterone which leads to a condition known as the primary hyperaldosteronism. It results in high blood pressure and the disturbance of salt balance. Due to high blood pressure, visual problems and severe headaches can occur. In rare cases, the adrenal glands may also become underactive. The overproduction of androgens is also very rare and it results in the disturbances in the menstrual periods and the excessive growth of hair. Sometimes the problem of tumors may also be associated with the adrenal glands and these tumors can be identified by the body scans. The cancer of adrenal glands is also very rare but if it happens, it requires the surgery.