Adrenal gland image

Balanced Bites For Adrenal Health

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This week our focus will be on  Adrenal Health.                               

With all the uncertainty around job security, finances and personal health, it is no wonder stress-related illnesses  are rearing their ugly head.

As we are aware, stress can affect the immune system. Our adrenal glands usually deal with stress by producing hormones like cortisol. According to the theory of adrenal fatigue, when people are faced with long-term stress, their adrenal glands cannot keep up with the body’s need for these hormones.

Function of The Adrenal Glands

The Adrenal 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.

Anatomy of The Adrenal Glands

anatomy of adrenal glands image

You have two adrenal glands, one above each kidney. The outer cortex and inner medulla are the functional portions of the gland. The cortex and medulla synthesise different hormones.

The right gland is pyramidal in shape, contrasting with the semi-lunar shape of the left gland.

The Adrenal Glands consist of:

  • Capsule – outer connective tissue 
  • Cortex – is yellowish in colour. It secretes two cholesterol derived hormones  corticosteroids (cortisol) and androgens.
  • Medulla – Lies in the centre of the gland, and is dark brown in colour. It contains chromaffin cells, which secrete catecholamines (such as adrenaline) into the bloodstream in response to stress. The ‘Fright, flight-or-fight‘ response.
  • Hilum – Veins and lymphatics leave each gland via the hilum 

How The Adrenal Glands Function

Adrenal Gland Disorders

Addison Disease

Addison disease is an usually progressive hypo-functioning of the adrenal cortex. It causes various symptoms, including:

  • hypotension
  • hyperpigmentation
  • adrenal crisis with cardiovascular collapse.

Cushing Disease

Cushing syndrome is clinical abnormalities caused by chronic high blood levels of cortisol or related corticosteroids. Cushing disease is Cushing syndrome that results from excess pituitary production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), generally secondary to a pituitary adenoma.

Typical symptoms and signs include:

  • Moon face 
  • Truncal obesity
  • Easy bruising
  • Thin arms and legs

Primary aldosteronism

Primary aldosteronism is aldosteronism caused by autonomous production of aldosterone by the adrenal cortex (due to hyperplasia, adenoma, or carcinoma). Symptoms and signs include:

  • Episodic weakness
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Hypokalemia.

Adrenal virilism

Adrenal virilism is a syndrome in which excessive adrenal androgens cause virilization. This is a condition in which a female develops characteristics associated with male hormones (androgens).

Nonfunctional adrenal masses

Nonfunctional adrenal masses are space-occupying lesions of the adrenal glands that have no hormonal activity. The most common nonfunctioning adrenal mass in adults is an adenoma (50%), followed by carcinomas and metastatic tumours.

Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency

Secondary adrenal insufficiency is adrenal hypofunction due to a lack of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Symptoms are the same as for Addison disease and include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Optimise Your Adrenal Health

adrenal health image

Taking steps to reduce your stress in a healthy way is important.

One way to lessen worry is to ground yourself in the present moment through mindfulness.  You can practice mindfulness by sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing and senses.

Another way to manage stress is by limiting computer screen time and media exposure. “While keeping informed about current events is important, too much attention can cause problems,” Setting boundaries can prevent feeling overwhelmed by any situations.

“It is important to not let fear control your life.”

Balanced Healing  can assist you with a personalised lifestyle plan to optimise your Adrenal Health.

If you require more information or treatment of your Adrenal Glands.

Contact Sr Bridget Spargo @ 083 653 7470 or Email: b@balancedhealing.co.za to book an appointment.

References:

Website: https://teachmeanatomy.info/abdomen/viscera/adrenal-glands/

Website: https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/adrenal-disorders

Website: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases

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