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What are the treatments for adrenal gland disorders?

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Health care providers use a variety of surgical and medical treatments for adrenal gland disorders. These include1:

  • Surgery to remove tumors in the adrenal gland or, when appropriate, surgery to remove the one or both of the adrenal glands
  • Minimally invasive surgery performed through the nostrils to remove tumors in the pituitary gland
  • Medication to stop the excess production of hormones
  • Hormone replacement

Cushing’s Syndrome

The treatment for Cushing’s syndrome depends on the cause. If medication causes the excess cortisol, a health care provider can change the patient’s dosage or try a different medication to correct the problem. If the Cushing’s syndrome is caused by the body making too much cortisol, treatments may include oral medication, surgery, radiation, or a combination of these treatments.2

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)

CAH cannot be cured, but it can be treated and controlled. People with CAH can take medication to help replace the hormones their bodies are not making. Some people with CAH need only these medications when they are sick, but other people with CAH may need to take medication every day.3

Pituitary Tumors

The most widely used treatment for non-cancerous pituitary tumors is transsphenoidal adenomectomy (pronounced a-dee-na-MEK-ta-me). Using a microscope and small instruments, the health care provider removes the tumor through a nostril or opening below the upper lip. Radiation is also used.2

Pheochromocytoma/Paraganglioma

The usual treatment for pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma is removal of the tumor through surgery. In most cases, removing the tumor improves the patient’s blood pressure control. This treatment seems to be more effective in patients whose high blood pressure is sporadic than in those patients whose high blood pressure is long lasting.4

Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is treated by replacing the cortisol and/or aldosterone that the body is lacking. People with Addison’s disease take oral medication each day to replace these hormones. They may also need to consume additional salt.5

Hyperaldosteronism

The treatment for hyperaldosteronism caused by an excessive growth of normal cells in both adrenal glands is medications that block the effect of aldosterone. The treatment for hyperaldosteronism caused by a non-cancerous tumor in one adrenal gland is removing the affected gland using laparoscopic (pronounced la-puh-re-SKOP-ic) surgery. This type of surgery is minimally invasive, involving only small incisions in the abdomen, and is usually easier to recover from than is traditional surgery.2


  1. Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin. (2009). Programs and disease treatment: Adrenal gland disorders. Retrieved June 4, 2012, from http://www.froedtert.com/SpecialtyAreas/Endocrinology/ProgramsandDiseaseTreatment/AdrenalGlandDisorders.htm External Web Site Policy [top]
  2. American Urological Association Foundation. (2011). Adrenal gland disorders. Retrieved June 4, 2012, from http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=89 External Web Site Policy [top]
  3. The Endocrine Society. (2010). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to steroid 12-hydroxylase deficiency: An Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from http://www.endo-society.org/guidelines/upload/FINAL-Standalone-CAH-Guideline.pdf External Web Site Policy (PDF - 5.65 MB) [top]
  4. National Cancer Institute. (2012). Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma treatment (PDQ®). Retrieved June 20, 2012, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/pheochromocytoma/HealthProfessional/page1/AllPages#3[top]
  5. National Adrenal Diseases Foundation. (n.d.). Adrenal diseases-Addison’s disease: The facts you need to know. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from http://www.nadf.us/diseases/addisons.htm#treatment External Web Site Policy [top]

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Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 11/30/2012
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