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Adrenal Glands: Other FAQs

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There are common questions that we can answer about all health topics, such as "What is it?" and "How many people are affected?" Answers to these questions are found under Condition Information. Each health topic frequently has specific questions that pertain only to that topic. We have answered those in this section.

What are the adrenal glands?

The adrenal glands, located on the top of each kidney, are responsible for releasing three different classes of hormones. These hormones control many important functions in the body, including1:

  • Maintaining metabolic processes, such as managing blood sugar levels and regulating inflammation
  • Regulating the balance of salt and water
  • Controlling the "fight or flight" response to stress
  • Maintaining pregnancy
  • Initiating and controlling sexual maturation during childhood and puberty

The adrenal glands are also an important source of sex steroids, such as estrogen and testosterone.

How do I find an experienced adrenal surgeon?

Make sure that the surgeon you choose is experienced. This means that he or she performs at least 20 adrenal operations a year. Be sure to ask surgeons how many operations they perform each year and what their complication rates are. Your endocrinologist or primary care team should be able to recommend good surgeons in your geographic area.2 For more information, visit the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons patient education website at

  1. EndocrineWeb. (2012). An overview of the adrenal glands: Beyond fight or flight. Retrieved June 29, 2012 from [top]
  2. The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons. (2012). How do I find an expert adrenal surgeon? Retrieved June 4, 2012, from [top]