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Quick Facts

Overview of the Adrenal Glands


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Oct 2020| Content last modified Oct 2020
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Glands make and release hormones.

Hormones are chemicals that stimulate other cells or tissues into action. Because hormones are in your blood, they travel throughout your body. They can affect many organs at the same time.

What are the adrenal glands (adrenals)?

You have two adrenal glands, one above each kidney. The adrenals release several different hormones. Adrenal hormones help control your:

  • Heart rate

  • Blood pressure

  • Balance of water and salt

  • Response to stress

  • Level of certain male hormones

A Close Look at the Adrenal Glands

A Close Look at the Adrenal Glands

What controls adrenal gland hormones?

Adrenal gland hormones are controlled by your:

  • Pituitary gland

  • Kidneys

Your pituitary gland is in your brain. It monitors a lot of important activity in your body and puts out hormones that tell other glands what to do. The pituitary controls most of the adrenal gland hormones.

Your kidneys put out substances that control the adrenal hormone aldosterone. Aldosterone helps control your blood pressure and the balance of salt and water in your body.

What problems can affect my adrenal glands?

Adrenal gland problems usually involve:

Problems may be caused by a disorder of the adrenal glands themselves, such as an adrenal tumor. Adrenal hormone problems may also be caused by disorders of the pituitary gland or the kidneys.

Adrenal tumors may or may not put out hormones. And an adrenal tumor may or may not be cancerous.

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