Adrenal glands are small, triangular-shaped glands found on top of both kidneys. They release chemical signals into the bloodstream called hormones. These hormones travel via the blood to have an action in other parts of the human body and help in the regulation of your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, stress response, and other vital activities.
They are divided into two regions, the cortex and the medulla, which each produce separate hormones.
- The adrenal cortex is the largest and most visible component of the adrenal gland. It is divided into three separate zones and each zone is responsible for producing specific hormones.
- The adrenal medulla is found in the center of an adrenal gland, inside the adrenal cortex. It secretes “stress hormones,” such as adrenaline.
Adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease) can occur when the adrenal glands do not produce adequate hormones. Adrenal glands may develop nodules, which can be benign or cancerous, and might possibly produce excessive levels of particular hormones, causing a variety of health problems.