Adrenal Disorders


The body has two adrenal glands – one on top of each kidney.


They release a number of different hormones including steroids and hormones controlling blood pressure.


Symptoms caused by a problem of the adrenal gland depends on which particular hormone is affected and whether too much or too little is being made. Disorders of the adrenal gland are relatively rare.


The commonest abnormality of adrenal function is an underactive gland. This is called Addison’s Disease. It is present in about 50 people per million. One of the difficulties with Addison’s is that it is so rare and presents so non-specifically (eg fatigue, weight loss, dizziness, nausea, weakness etc), that its diagnosis may easily be missed.

Symptoms of Addison’s:



The following are other conditions associated with over-activity of different parts of the adrenal gland.


In addition to disorders of adrenal gland function is the much commoner finding of an abnormal-looking adrenal gland on a scan. This is usually referred to as an adrenal incidentaloma as it is usually seen on a scan done for another reason eg abdominal pain. Adrenal incidentalomas require careful assessment to ensure the gland is not over-producing any particular hormone and also repeated x-rays to ensure they don’t become cancerous.

Meet the consultant

Dr Eoin O'SullivanMB, MRCPI, MD

Diabetes and Endocrinology

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Meet the consultant

Dr Maeve Durkan
MBBS.(Hons), FACP, Mmed.Ed

Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism

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