Setting a New Standard for Pediatric Adrenal Gland Care

The group of pediatric endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism specialists at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s not only offers the latest expertise in adrenal gland disorders, but sets a higher standard of care. Our dedicated team of nationally-recognized endocrinologists is leading the way to advance new guidelines for conditions like adrenal insufficiency and other rare disorders.

It’s part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring all patients realize the best outcome for a happy, healthy life. Our multidisciplinary team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric endocrinologists, social workers, nurses, dieticians and other specialists who work collaboratively with patients and families to ensure you have the best information available to make the most informed decisions. When questions arise, we are available 24/7 to help guide your child and family in the right direction.

Understanding Adrenal Gland Disorders

Adrenal glands are located at the top of both kidneys and produce hormones that all people must have to stay alive. The medulla is in the center of the gland and is responsible for producing epinephrine and norepinephrine – otherwise known as adrenaline. The adrenal cortex surrounds the medulla and produces hormones such as cortisol hormones, which regulates the body’s response to stress and illness and aldosterone to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance. Sex hormones are also produced in the cortex.

When the adrenal glands produce too much or too little of certain hormones, a disorder is present. These conditions can be caused by genetic mutations, certain types of tumors, infections, medications or a problem that originates in another gland such as the pituitary.

Types of Adrenal Gland Disorders

Our endocrinology specialists provide comprehensive treatment for a full range of adrenal gland disorders, including:

Adrenal Insufficiency: Also known as Addison’s disease, patients are diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency when there is a deficient supply of the cortisol hormone. Cortisol helps break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates in the body. It also controls blood pressure and can impact the immune system.

If not appropriately treated, adrenal insufficiency symptoms can include severe abdominal pain, extreme weakness, low blood pressure, kidney failure or shock.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is characterized by nonmalignant growth of the adrenal glands. Patients with CAH are missing one of the enzymes needed to produce certain steroid hormones including cortisol, aldosterone and androgens – encompassing sex hormones such as testosterone. Many patients with CAH lack cortisol and have too much androgen. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia symptoms can lead to more serious conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome and Conn’s Syndrome.

Team-Focused Treatment for Adrenal Gland Disorders in Children

The multidisciplinary team at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s considers many factors before developing an individualized treatment plan for adrenal gland disorders. We understand how these life-threatening conditions progress over time and disrupt the lives of people they affect. Our goal is to optimize treatment based on a patient’s age and ability to handle certain medications and therapies. We will also assess the stage and seriousness of the illness, while working with patients and family members to determine the best way to progress forward.

While hormone replacement therapy will most likely be ordered, treatment may start with IV fluids and drugs called corticosteroids. Patients may also need to take fludrocortisone medications to help keep sodium and potassium levels normal. It is important that patients stick to the corticosteroid medications therapies outlined by their treatment team to minimize the potential for adverse events.

The good news is that our patients and their families are surrounded by an encouraging, understanding support system of our highly trained doctors and nurses who walk beside you every step of the way. Also, our multiple locations across northeast Ohio provide a convenient means for patients and families to access treatment and keep communication lines open with endocrinology specialists.

Confidence in Your Adrenal Gland Care

Patient and families who choose UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s can feel confident they are receiving the highest standard of care available for adrenal gland disorders. When adrenal gland disorders symptoms are present, it can be a frightening time for all involved, and it’s important to have strong ties to the right expertise. We’re here to partner with you so your child receives the best experience and outcome.