What are the Adrenal Glands?
The adrenal glands are small, triangular-shaped endocrine glands located on top of each kidney. They play a critical role in the production and regulation of various hormones that help the body respond to stress and maintain essential physiological functions. The adrenal glands are divided into two distinct parts: the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla. The adrenal cortex is the outer layer and is responsible for producing corticosteroid hormones, including cortisol (a stress hormone) and aldosterone (which regulates blood pressure and electrolyte balance). The adrenal medulla, located in the inner part of the gland, produces catecholamine hormones, such as adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine), which are involved in the body’s fight-or-flight response.
Examples of Adrenal Gland activity
In response to a perceived threat, the adrenal medulla releases adrenaline and noradrenaline, which initiate the fight-or-flight response. This reaction increases heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to muscles, enabling the body to prepare for an immediate response to the threat, either by fighting or fleeing from the situation.
The adrenal cortex releases cortisol in response to stress, which helps regulate blood sugar levels, metabolism, and inflammation. Cortisol also plays a role in the suppression of the immune system and helps maintain blood pressure during periods of stress.