Saturday, June 9, 2018

Adrenal Function & Tests

Adrenal Function & Tests

The body has two adrenal glands, one located above each kidney. Hormones secreted by these endocrine glands help to regulate many body processes. Measuring blood and urine levels of adrenal hormones, including the following, is often the first step in diagnosing a variety of disorders associated with adrenal gland dysfunction.

Adrenal Hormone Tests:

Aldosterone controls salt, potassium, and water balance in the body and helps to regulate blood pressure. Overproduction (hyperaldosteronism) or underproduction (hypoaldosteronism) of this hormone may be caused by tumors or other abnormalities within the adrenal glands (primary; e.g., adrenal cancer) or may result from problems outside the adrenals (secondary). Both blood levels and urinary excretion of aldosterone may be measured.

Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone that helps to control the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats; mediate the body’s response to stress; and regulate the immune system. Oversecretion of cortisol, most often caused by a benign adrenal tumor, results in Cushing’s syndrome. Undersecretion may indicate a form of adrenal insufficiency known as Addison’s disease. Both blood levels and urine levels (known as free cortisol) are usually measured.

18-Hydroxy Cortisol 

18-Hydroxycortisol, a product of cortisol metabolism, is an unusual steroid produced in excessive amounts in patients with primary hyperaldosteronism. Measuring blood levels of this hormone can help to determine whether primary hyperaldosteronism is caused by a tumor called adrenal adenoma, or by overgrowth (hyperplasia) of adrenal tissue; levels are significantly higher in people with an adenoma.


DHEA-S, or dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate—a sex hormone (androgen) synthesized by the adrenal gland—is a precursor to testosterone. In women, the adrenal glands are the major, and sometimes only, source of androgens. Elevated DHEA-S levels are associated with virilism (male body characteristics), hirsutism (excessive hair growth), amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), and infertility. Adrenal abnormalities such as tumors may lead to abnormally high DHEA-S levels.

Purpose of the Adrenal Hormone Tests:

To evaluate patients with suspected dysfunction of the adrenal glands.
To aid in the diagnosis and evaluation of adrenal abnormalities, such as Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease, adrenal adenoma, or adrenal hyperplasia.
DHEA-S may be measured to determine the cause of hirsutism, amenorrhea, or infertility in women and to evaluate precocious puberty in children.

Blood tests:
A sample of your blood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand, and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Urine tests:
To accurately assess urinary excretion of aldosterone, cortisol, and 18-hydroxycortisol, timed urine specimens are collected in a special container over a 24-hour period.
Once urine collection is complete, label the container with your name, date, and time of completion and return it as instructed by your doctor.

(Source Health Communities)

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