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Blog / Kidney Health

The Adrenal Glands: What is their Function?

Sep. 21 2019 by Sheherzad Raza Preisler Blog Editor, PR, & Social Media Coordinator
The Adrenal Glands: What is their Function?

The adrenal glands–aka the superarenal glands–are two small, triangular glands nestled atop the kidneys; each kidney is home to one adrenal gland. They produce hormones that function to regulate our immune systems, blood pressure, metabolism, and our responses to stress, as well as other indispensable functions. 

They produce an assortment of hormones:

  • Cortisol: this hormone aids in the control of how our body makes use of proteins, carbs, and fat; it also keeps our blood pressure in check, suppresses inflammation, upregulates blood sugar, and may lower the formation of bones.
  • DHEA and Androgenic Steroids: these are considered weak male hormones and precursor hormones. In women, DHEA and androgenic steroids are converted into female hormones–aka estrogens–in the ovaries. In men, these hormones are converted into male hormones–aka androgens–in the testes. However, the ovaries and testes themselves produce estrogens and androgens in much more significant amounts, respectively.
  • Aldosterone: this hormone plays a major part in regulating blood pressure, as well as the electrolytes sodium and potassium. Aldosterone works by sending messages to the kidneys, telling them whether to absorb more sodium into the bloodstream or release more potassium into the urine. 
  • Epinephrine (Adrenaline) and Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline): these are our body’s “fight or flight” hormones, which are controlled by the adrenal gland’s inner area, known as the adrenal medulla. The two have similar functions, and are able to carry out a number of functions, including increasing the heart rate and the blood flow to the muscles and brain, aiding in sugar metabolism, as well as forcing heart contractions. They also help maintain blood pressure by controlling the squeezing of blood vessels in a process known as vasoconstriction; this allows these hormones to increase our blood pressure in response to stressful situations. 

The Ezra full-body, torso, and abdominal scans will screen your adrenal glands for cancerous and precancerous states, as well as other conditions. You can learn about our screening options here.