We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.
Health

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What are the Different Types of Adrenal Disorders?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated: Feb 05, 2024

There are a number of types of adrenal disorders which can be roughly broken into three categories: disorders which lead to overproduction of hormones, disorders associated with underproduction of hormones, and disorders which impact overall adrenal function. These conditions have a number of causes and treatment approaches which usually require the attention of an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in hormone disorders and imbalances.

The adrenal glands are roughly star-shaped glands located on top of the kidneys. Two areas in these glands, known as the cortex and medulla, produce hormones. These glands make hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and corticosteroids. Alterations in hormone levels can lead to systemic health problems, and severe malfunctions can cause death for the patient. Because the adrenal glands produce an array of hormones used for different functions in the body, they are subject to a number of disorders.

Adrenal disorders characterized by underproduction, also known as adrenal insufficiency, include Addison's disease and adrenal hyperplasia. Addison's disease is characterized by a lack of corticosteroid production, and is also known as hypocortisolism. Adrenal hyperplasia involves a deficiency in the hormone cortisol, and it can also result in aldosterone deficiencies and an overproduction of androgen.

Too many hormones are produced in the case of adrenal cancers, Cushing's disease, Conn's disease, and pheochromacytoma. Cushing's disease causes the adrenal glands to make too much cortisol, while Conn's disease involves overproduction of aldosterone. Pheochromacytomas, rare growths in the adrenal glands, stimulate the production of excessive adrenaline. Cancers can cause overproduction of various adrenal hormones, depending on where they are situated.

Some other disorders can interfere with adrenal gland function, leading to adrenal disorders. Adrenoleukodystrophy, an inherited condition, damages these glands over time, impairing their function. Pituitary tumors can also cause adrenal disorders by interfering with the production of hormones which regulate the activity of the adrenal glands. In these cases, adrenal dysfunction is a secondary complication, rather than the primary issue of concern, but it can become very serious.

Symptoms of adrenal gland disorders are quite varied, depending on the nature of the disorder. Physical changes such as weight gain and unusual hair growth can occur in adrenal disorders, along with fatigue, stress, and a general sense of malaise. A doctor can diagnose an adrenal gland disorder with the assistance of testing to determine hormone levels in the body, and medical imaging to look at the adrenal glands for signs of obvious physical abnormalities. Treatments can include surgery, hormone replacement, or medications.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Share
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.