Diseases of the adrenal glands usually are caused by either too much or too little of any of these hormones. Adrenal insufficiency occurs when the adrenal gland is not producing enough hormones and is also called Addison's disease Addison's disease - a disease where not enough of the adrenal hormones are being made. This problem is also known as adrenal insufficiency. . Addison's disease is potentially fatal if the patient does not receive hormones in pill form. The adrenal gland may make too much of any one of these hormones and cause any of the following diseases: Cushing's syndrome Cushing's syndrome - a disease where too much cortisol is being made (too much cortisol), primary hyperaldosteronism Primary hyperaldosteronism - a disease where too much aldosterone is being made (too much aldosterone), virilizing syndrome Virilizing syndrome - a disease where too much androgen (male sex hormone Hormone - a chemical made by a gland that travels in the bloodstream and "tells organs what to do." ) is being made (too much androgen), pheochromocytoma Pheochromocytoma - a disease where too much adrenaline is being made by an adrenal tumor (too much adrenaline), and paraganglioma Paraganglioma - a disease where too much adrenaline is being made by a tumor outside the adrenal glands (too much adrenaline). Please see the individual sections for more information.
Most cancers found in the adrenal gland did not start there and are not adrenal cancers. Instead, they start in other organs or tissues and then spread (metastasize) through the bloodstream to the adrenal glands. For example, lung cancers, melanomas, and breast cancers often spread to the adrenals. Even when other cancers spread to the adrenals; however, they are still named after the place they started and are treated like other cancers that start in the same place. They are not considered adrenal cancer. Their treatment is described in our documents on these cancers.
The adrenal medulla is GIGANTIC. It’s the largest sympathetic ganglia. The cells are made of modified neurons that have short axons and no nerve processes. The adrenal cortex is an endocrine organ and the outer layer is the adrenal cortex while the inner layer is the medulla. When stimulated by preganglionic sympathetic fibers from T8-L1, they secrete large quantities of the excitatory hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) into nearby capillaries. When these two hormones are released in the blood they amplify all of this fight or flight stuff to give you more energy.