Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland that prepares the body to respond to stress. Cushing’s syndrome and Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency) are conditions of too much and not enough cortisol production, respectively. Symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include fatigue, mood swings, reddened and rounded face, easy bruising and muscle loss. There are several different causes of Cushing’s syndrome and the endocrinologist must investigate carefully to determine the correct diagnosis.
The adrenal glands also produce hormones (catecholamines and aldosterone) that help to regulate blood pressure. Usually, hypertension, or high blood pressure, is best treated with medications. However, occasionally hypertension can be the result of an adrenal tumor producing catecholamines (pheochromocytoma) or aldosterone. In those cases, surgery may cure or substantially improve the hypertension.
The GW Medical Faculty Associates Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism is affiliated with The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, an academic hospital with the most recently developed medical technology in use today.