Adrenal Glands

Nestled next to the kidneys are the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands develop from two distinct tissue types to form one organ. The outer portion (cortex) originates from glandular tissue, while the inner portion (medulla) originates from nerve tissue. These distinct layers also reflect different functions: 1) the cortex secretes sex hormones (e.g.: estrogens and androgens) and hormones that regulate salt (e.g.: aldosterone) and sugar (e.g.: cortisol) metabolism and 2) the medulla is under neurologic control releasing adrenaline during the “fight or flight” response. Adrenal gland abnormalities develop when there are excesses or deficiencies of any of these hormones. Treatment for deficiencies focuses on restoration of normal hormone levels by hormone replacement therapy. Excess hormone levels may be treated medically; rare cases require surgery to remove the affected adrenal gland to restore normal hormone levels


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