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What are the different types of adrenal dysfunction?

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Quick Answer

Different types of adrenal dysfunction include Cushing's syndrome, Addison's disease and adrenal tumors, notes MedlinePlus. Adrenal glands are positioned above the kidneys and must function correctly for many of the body's needs.

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Full Answer

In Cushing's syndrome, the adrenal glands make too much of the hormone cortisol, explains Mayo Clinic. The symptoms of Cushing's syndrome are a rounded face, high blood pressure, stretch marks on the skin and a characteristic hump of fat between the shoulders. The skin is also fragile and bruises and breaks easily. The resulting injuries are slow to heal.

In Addison's disease, the adrenal glands make too few hormones, states MedlinePlus. These hormones include cortisol, aldosterone, androgens and estrogens. Addison's disease can be an autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks its own cells. Having other autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, Graves' disease and pernicious anemia makes a person more susceptible to Addison's disease. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dehydration, pallor and extreme weakness. People with Addison's disease also suffer from darkening of their skin, chronic diarrhea and ulcers inside their mouths. They crave salt and suffer otherwise unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite.

Adrenal tumors can be benign or malignant, according to the USC Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases. However, it is sometimes difficult to tell the two apart, and the patient needs to be monitored closely. Sometimes, the tumors overproduce hormones that lead to such conditions as Cushing's syndrome.

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