Adrenal glands

by Jason Wasserman MD PhD FRCPC
May 26, 2022

What are the adrenal glands?

The adrenal glands are small organs that sit just on top of your kidneys at the back of your abdomen. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing hormones (chemical signals released into the bloodstream) to help regulate functions in the rest of the body.

The adrenal glands are made up of two parts, an outer cortex, and an inner medulla. The cells in the outer cortex are called adrenal cortical cells and they produce hormones to help control things like the amount of water and salt in the body and the body’s response to stress.

The cells in the inner medulla are called neuroendocrine cells and they produce hormones to control the body’s sympathetic (“fight or flight”) response. The hormones made by these cells include epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). When these hormones are released into the blood, they cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase.

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