What are the treatments for adrenal gland disorders?

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

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

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

The most widely used treatment for non-cancerous pituitary tumors is removal of the tumors. Using a microscope and small instruments, the health care provider removes the tumor through a nostril or opening below the upper lip. The process is called transsphenoidal adenomectomy (pronounced TRANS-sfee-NOY-dul a-dee-na-MEK-ta-me). Radiation is also used.4

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.5

Addison's disease is treated by replacing the cortisol and/or aldosterone that the body is lacking. People with Addison's disease take medication (usually by mouth) each day to replace these hormones. They may also need to consume additional salt.6

The treatment for hyperaldosteronism depends on what is causing the disorder.

  • For hyperaldosteronism caused by an excessive growth of normal cells in both adrenal glands, the treatment involves 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 traditional surgery.7


  1. Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin. (2009). Programs and disease treatment: Adrenal gland disorders. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from http://www.froedtert.com/SpecialtyAreas/Endocrinology/ProgramsandDiseaseTreatment/
    external link
  2. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2012). Cushing's syndrome. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/cushings-syndrome#treatment
  3. The Endocrine Society. (2010). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to steroid 12-hydroxylase deficiency: An Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/95/9/4133/2835216 external link
  4. National Library of Medicine. (November 2013). Pituitary tumor. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000704.htm
  5. National Cancer Institute. (2015). Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma treatment (PDQ®)–health professional version. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/pheochromocytoma/
  6. National Adrenal Diseases Foundation. (n.d.). Adrenal diseases-Addison's disease: The facts you need to know. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from https://www.nadf.us/primary-adrenal-insufficiency-addisonrsquos-disease.html external link
  7. Society for Endocrinology. (2013). Hyperaldosteronism. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.yourhormones.info/endocrine-conditions/primary-hyperaldosteronism/ external link


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