Adrenal, Pituitary, Hypothalamic Disorders
Adrenal glands are two small glands, one on top of each kidney. Each adrenal gland has two parts – the cortex and the medulla – which have specific roles and secrete different types of hormones absolutely necessary for life. Even though most of the patients are familiar with the hormone CORTISOL, there are many other hormones produced by adrenal glands: renin, aldosterone, epinephrine (known as adrenaline), norepinephrine, dopamine, metanephrine, normetanephrine, testosterone and estrogen.
These hormones are very important in stress and immune system response, inflammation, regulating blood pressure, water and salt balance, metabolism of fat, proteins and carbohydrates and sexual development.
Adrenal disorders are complex disorders characterized by excessive or insufficient production of hormones described above. Cushing Syndrome, Adrenal Insufficiency, Hyperaldosteronism and Pheochromocytoma are just some of the serious disorders of the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands can develop benign or malignant tumors. Other times the adrenal glands are destructed by infections, autoimmune conditions or bleeding.
Pituitary and Hypothalamic Disorders
Pituitary gland is also called “the master gland” due to its role in controlling many other endocrine glands. It is located at the base of the brain and it is closely connected with another gland called Hypothalamus. Hypothalamus is part of the brain and connects the brain with the endocrine system so the body can function normally. Pituitary gland produces hormones that stimulate and control the function of the thyroid, adrenals, gonads (ovaries and testicles); it also controls breast milk production, water metabolism and has roles in giving birth and bonding. We are still learning a lot about the hypothalamus and pituitary functions and hormones they produce.
Most common disorders of the pituitary and hypothalamus as tumors (growths). Even though most of them are benign, because the space where they develop is very small, they will compress adjacent structures (normal pituitary tissue, brain tissue, optic nerves) causing headaches and vision problems. Increased or decreased hormone production will affect other glands (like thyroid, adrenals, ovaries and testicles) contributing to growth and developmental issues, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, mood changes and many other symptoms.