The adrenal glands are a pair of triangular shaped organs that rest on top of the kidneys. The adrenals help to maintain the salt and water balance in the body. They are also involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and the regulation of blood sugar. In addition, the cortex part of the adrenals produces a sex hormone similar to that secreted by the testes. The medulla of the adrenals produces the hormone epinephrine, also called adrenaline, when the body is under stress. This hormone speeds up the rate of metabolism and produces other physiologic changes designed to help the body cope with danger.
If the adrenal cortex is seriously underactive a rare condition called Addison's disease may develop.
If the adrenal cortex is overactive it can result in Cushing's Syndrome.