What can go wrong with the Adrenal Glands?

Problems with the adrenals can be due to either a change in function, such as Hypofunction (decreased production of adrenal hormones) or Hyperfunction (increased production of adrenal hormones), or to the development of a non-functional lump in the gland (incidentaloma).

  • Hypofunction of the adrenal gland usually results from either destruction of the gland itself or from insufficient stimulation.
  • Hyperfunction can result from either excessive production of a hormone from the gland itself, or excessive stimulation of the gland. The excess production may arise from a benign tumour of the gland known as an adenoma. Malignant tumours of the adrenals do occur, but are very rare.
  • Incidentalomas can be benign or malignant, and are usually found incidentally on an ultrasound or CT scan being done for some other reason.