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Anxiety symptoms - High BP - Adrenal Gland Tumor

Hello.  I'm new to this group as a poster,  but have been reading for quite some time.

I have been in a living hell for about 3 months now.  I have been ignored by all doctors ( except for the latest) and constantly turned away,  being told that I suffer from anxiety disorder.   I have felt for quite some time that something just isn't right with that diagnosis.  While I feel many anxiety symptoms physically,  I cannot relate to the emotional component.  I do not get any of the anxiety related emotions such as fear,  panic,  feeling like I'm going to die...anything,  I do however get the physical symptoms such as dizzziness,  tightness in my head, rapid heart beat and a feeling of tingling in my head and face.  

I have just returned from yet another appointment with a new doctor,  who is finally listening to me.  She believes I may have an Adrenal Tumor which would cause my body to produce too much adrenaline and/or cortosol ( the stress hormone)

At the same time that my "anxiety" symptoms began,  I developed insanely high blood pressure as well and even with drugs,  it has become nearly impossible to stabalize it.  It has spiked as high as 220/120, at times.

Has anyone else had any doctor mention Adrenal Tumors?  Has anyone else been investigated for it?

Greatly appreciate any feedback!!
17 Responses
299912 tn?1341626700
Seeing as how I am not a doctor, I cannot be 100% sure, but here goes.

You mentioned: "At the same time that my "anxiety" symptoms began,  I developed insanely high blood pressure as well and even with drugs,  it has become nearly impossible to stabalize it.  It has spiked as high as 220/120, at times. "

As from what I recall, aren't all the symptoms you have related to having simple high-blood pressure? I know my mother in law has it and she also used to have anxiety, and has told me that the sympoms she experiences for both are nearly identical.

As far as the anxiety with no emotional component. I am willing to bet that you are having some sort of emotional component, or you wouldn't be here. Also, what your doctor said here "She believes I may have an Adrenal Tumor which would cause my body to produce too much adrenaline and/or cortosol ( the stress hormone)" is exactly what happens to people who have anxiety/panic disorder. The physical and emotional are linked together in a strong bond. While both are not always present, they are most always linked to the same cause.

And trust me, most everyone who has anxiety doesn't "buy" the doctors dianosis at first. Because anxiety is not as tangible as something like say a tumor and it is hard (with all the powerful and very real symptoms) to believe that it is just "nerves". All the symtoms you are talking about are related to the sympathetic nervous system (nerves that are affected by adrenaline) and the sensitization of such. Let me ask you this: are these symptoms constant all the time, or do they come and go? In the past 3 months, have they gotten worse (consistently)? Tumors usually (because they are growing) cause constant symptoms and get worse progressively. I have always been told by my doctor that if my symptoms ever go away for a time period, then it is most likely NOT a tumor.

Now, I am not discounting the fact that it could be a tumor and it is good that your doc. is testing you for that. However, I am willing to bet the test comes back negative. If so, and she says it is just anxiety, I would seriously suggest that you take it serious this time and start focusing on getting help for it. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

401786 tn?1309155634
I have been ill for four years and I too have been preliminarily diagnosed with an adrenal tumor.  I had crappy insurance for the past yrs. so I couldn't go where I was supposed to go for a diagnosis.  I had been blown off by more docs than I care to remember.  Typically with this disease you have s/s like I do with a swollen abdomen (mine swells to the same size I was at 9 mos of pregnancy and is rock hard), skin wounds, fragile skin, and more often than not a redistribution of body fat in the abdomen and face and a "buffalo" hump on the back of the neck.  While adrenal dysfunction could be caused by an adrenal tumor, it can also be caused by a tumor on the pituitary glad.  That is much more common.  Both places need to be checked, starting off first with a 24 hour urine test.  Of course, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder can cause a lot of physical s/s.  I'd get to a larger, teaching hospital, if you're concerned, if you've got a gut feeling that something is wrong.  Also, Mayo Clinic, or John's Hopkin's.
401786 tn?1309155634
By the way, if you have an over-active thyroid gland, you can have s/s not distinguishable from just primary anxiety.  Thyroitoxicos or thyroid storm can occur in someone with hyperthyroidism.  It is important you have your thyroid gland checked.  I myself, during this illness developed a nodule/tumor on my thyroid gland and was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease.  It is an autoimmune disease that is local, not systemic, and causes hypothyroidism, and gradually, your thyroid gland to be completely obliterated.
Avatar universal
Hi there,

Good info on the adrenal gland question. I have been diagnosed with panic/axniety but when it first started years ago I kind of diagnosed myself after researching on line adn I actually thought I had an adrenal tumor.... Really becasue of the panic and anxiety symptoms but I also have the buffalo hump. I am overwieght after having my son. So my doctor said probably not becasue I didnt have the "moon round face" and said I would have extremely skinny long arms and legs and I am pretty much well rounded. I do have a hard/big tummy area but hard to tell because of the pregnancy all though I have lost about 50 pounds... I still have 50 more to go.

So- recently when I started having my panic attacks, chest pain, just a feeling of being low on sugar like some diabetics.... I had a drug test for a new job and I took it, dont take drugs so I knew it would all be okay... well... horus later they told me I didnt pass!! They said I tested posititve for meth!!! I freaked because not only did i know I didnt take drugs, I neede dthis job! So I made an appt first thing with my doctor who then said... HMMMM, maybe you have a adrenal tumor becuase your body makes more of something and it would cause a drug test to fail. So I thought finally! she is on to something. Well the next test she did is a 24 hour blood pressure cuff to take readings. Everything was normal. My blood pressure never peaked so she dissmissed it and didnt think it was necessary to look any furthur. i did push her more so she orderd this 24 hour urine test and I still have yet to take it and its been 6 months.

May I ask how you got diagnosed... did they see it on a ultrasound or something or a blood test? They did do a kidney ultrasound on me and said it included the adrenal glands and it was normal.
Avatar universal
We are struggling with the same diagnosis issues with my mother.  This is what I have learned so far.  The most common test for adrenal tumor is a 24 hour urine test.  However, in some cases, unless an individual has an episode during collection, the urine test could be negative, even with a pheochromocytoma present. Our test was negative.  But there is a blood test available which tests Plasma Metanephrines and Catecholamines, which has been approved for diagnosis of pheochromocytoma (which is the type that we believe my mother could have).  The most common adrenal gland tumor is adrenocortical carcinoma and there is also the potential for a Neuroblastoma.  Symptoms can vary to some degree depending on the type.  It is important to confidently eliminate the adrenal tumor as the cause since they can be fatal depending on the type and location.  You may be symptomatic or non-symptomatic and have an adrenal tumor.  Symptoms of pheochromocytoma MAY include
Weight loss or gain
Diabetes-like symptoms
Angina Chest Pain
Clammy skin Cold skin
Feeling of impending doom
Rapid pulse
Rapid breathing
Breathing difficulty
Vision disturbance
Impaired vision
Orthostatic hypotension
Abdominal pain
Flank pain
Paresthesia (tingling, prickling, numbness or burning sensations)
My mother has 18 of the above.  So we are definitely going to run the course with testing to be sure.  I would also suggest having your pituitary and thyroid checked as they can all be involved in something called MEN which causes tumors.  Depending on your symptoms, a renal artery stenosis is another candidate condition that can cause some of the same side affects.  An Endocrinologst and/or Nephrologist are some good doctors to start working with to help make a diagnosis or eliminate the potential for any of the above conditions.  Although these tumors are rare, I've crossed that road with my oldest son who almost died when he was 4 years old due to a 'rarest of rarest' condition.  I'm sure you're fine.  But I hope the above information provide some additional information that can help you make personal decisions.  Good luck.
Avatar universal
hi. i wanted to welcome you to medhelp. as you can see from your responces there are some great people here. i hope your dr. figures out what's going on. has he recommend putting you on an antianxiety med to see if your blood pressure goes down? let us know how your doing and take care. remar
Avatar universal
This was an interesting post.  I am wondering how many of us are being given antidepressents/anxiety medication when our problem could be the adrenal glands????
573569 tn?1278633255
where did you get this information i need to see it so i can show my dr i know this was more then just anxiety
Avatar universal
I read your post with interest. I have been having the same sort of symptoms for 6 months now and feel also as if I am hitting my head against a brick wall. I have taken several anxiety drugs and none of them have helped. Just given me worse headaches and a beta blocker gave me terrible palpitations. More than I was having usually. I have no anxiety symptoms emotionally at all. I was feeling very well when suddenly I had an attack of body tingles and clammy skin and just feeling weird six months ago. I too wonder if it is a problem with the adrenal glands. I am seeing a different doctor this next week so I am praying that he may really listen and shed more light on what may be really wrong.

650464 tn?1323718271
Katzoomie has the best advice here.  During a ct scan (2006),  for abdominal problems, they discovered a tumor IN my left adrenal gland.  There are two parts to the adrenal, the cortex (outer) and the medulla (inner).  My tumor is in the medulla which controls your epinephrine and norepinephrine, stress hormones that affect the parts of the brain where attention and responding actions are controlled.  Along with epinephrine and norepinephrine, also underlies the fright-or-fight response, directly increasing heartrate, triggering the release of glucose from energy stores, and increasing blood flow to the skeletal muscle.  Norepinephrine is synthesized from dopamine by dopamine hydroxylase.  It is released from the adrenal medulla into the blood as a hormone, and is also a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and sympathetic nervous system, where it is released from noradrenergic neurons.  Norepinephrine is released when a host of physiological changes are activated by a stressful event.  Norepinephrine, along with dopamine, has come to be recognized as playing a large role in attention and focus.  Differences in the norepinephrine system are implicated in depression.

Adrenal Disease Types:

Adrenocoritical Carcinoma
Cushing's Disease/Syndrome
Hyperaldosteronism (Conn's Syndrome)

Conn's Symptoms:
high blood pressure
increased salt levels - fluid retention
excessive urination
muscle spasms
temporary/intermittent paralysis (rare)

Cushing's symptoms:
excess fat in the neck, upper back and face
thin skin that bruises easily/heals slowly
purple/red stretch marks on abdomen/thighs/breasts
insomnia or other sleep disorders

Pheochromocytoma Symptoms:
high blood pressure
rapid or irregular heartbeats
feelings of anxiety/panic/fear
pallor (paleness)
dizziness/lightheadedness with standing
weight loss

Adrenocortical carcinoma is a malignant tumor that occurs in the cortex, or outer layer of the adrenal gland.  It is very rare, affecting only 300 to 500 people annually in the US.
About 70% of adrenocortical carcinomas are "functioning", meaning they produce hormones, often in excess amounts.  Non-functioning tumors do not produce hormones.  Unfortunately, only about 30% of these tumors are confined to the adrenal gland and have spread to the lung, bone and liver or peritoneum (membrane lining the abdominal cavity).  Symptoms of AC vary widely, depending on the hormones produced by the tumor.  About 50% of tumors overproduce cortisol, causing symptoms of Cushings Syndrome.  Tumors that produce androgen (the "male" hormone), may cause no symptoms at all in men, but women may experience excess growth of facial and body hair, deepened voice or irregular menstruation, or menstruation stopping altogether.  Tumors that produce estrogen (the "female" hormone), may cause breast tenderness or enlargement, lowered sex drive and/or erectile dysfunction in men, while women may not notice symptoms until the tumor grows large enough to affect nearby organs.  Age is the biggest risk factor for adrenocortical carcinoma.  Most cases occur in adults between the ages of 40 and 50, although the disease also strikes children under 5 years of age.

I know in my case, when the tumor was first discovered, it was 8 mm in size.  Currently it has grown to 1.1 cm.  Over the last 2 1/2 years, I've been through so many ct scans (they watch it for growth), as well as all the tests that go along with it, that up until recently have come back negative for any of the syndromes/diseases these tumors cause.  My last round of blood/24 hour urine testing, in August of this year,  showed that my DHEA levels were abnormally high, but the DHEA-sulfate was within normal range.  Also in my case, I have more of the symptoms of the Pheochromocytoma going on, but also have symptoms of Cushings as well.  I see 2 separate Endocrinologists (I wanted a second opinion), and just saw one of them this week.  I have been extremely upset at all of my doctors with regards to the tumor.  Because most of the time my tests come back okay, and this goes for anyone, they "assume" the tumor is benign.  That is why they have you go through at least 2 to 3 ct scans yearly to just "watch it for growth".  The doctors, and just about everything you read online, tell you that when the tumor grows to the size of around 2 to 3 cm, THEN they believe it is malignant and the next step is surgery.  Personally, I think this is bunk!  I don't care what the tests have shown, I know I have all of these symptoms going on and I just want the darn thing OUT OF ME!  When I saw the one Endo doctor this week, I took with me tons of information that I have researched online in order to SHOW him that I have all of these symptoms going on.  When I saw him the first time a year ago, he never even asked me what my symptoms were!!!  So when he walked in the exam room and asked me how I was doing, I replied, not well at all and futhermore, THIS TIME YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME!  He did NOT like me that day at all...tough!  I wanted to ask questions and I wanted answers.  He is one of those doctors with the huge ego problems going on...you know the type...that think just because they are doctors, they're smarter than anyone on the earth...and don't dare questions them!  BUNKIE!!  At one point, as I was telling him things I had read online, he went off on me about oh  yes, you can find all sorts of information online from all sorts of "quacks"...I told him sure, I've even been seen by a few doctors I consider to be those quacks (meaning him!).  He was extremely ugly to me and asked me at another point...where did you hear this information??  I said how about the National Institute of Health???!  He said.."that's a lie"...I don't believe it!  I had been telling him that not only did they do the blood tests and 24 hour urine tests, but ALWAYS did the saliva testing along with those.  I told him I also got the information from the Mayo Clinic!!!!!!!  I have never been talked to/treated like that from any other doctor ever!   He once again, put me through all of the tests (except the saliva test because to him, that was something they did ages ago and wasn't any good at finding anything anyway).  Oh...towards the end of our "visit"...he couldn't apologize enough to me for being so rude.  I thought yeah right buddy...you just know you're not dealing with some uneducated idiot who isn't afraid to question the mighty doctor!  I know what he was thinking...you could see the look of fright on his face...thinking wow...I'd better apologize to this woman before she turns me into the Medical Board for unprofessional conduct!!  Anyway, I went through the testing, took the urine back Wednesday morning, and am just waiting on all the results.  He did ask me what I WANTED done...I told him that I want the tumor taken out!  So he is supposed to get in touch with a surgeon and set me up an appointment and hopefully I WILL GET THIS THING OUT OF MY BODY!!  I truly believe it will help me with at least 1/2 of my problems going on.  I do know it is a very dangerous surgery with a lot of risks involved, but I am willing to take those risks.  After all, it is MY body, MY life and this is what I WANT!  Hell, just the ct scans alone over the last 2 yrs. have put so much radiation into my body, that alone can cause cancer!!  I hope this information helps some of you.  It is hard to understand and all these adrenal problems/diseases are very confusing to understand at times.  Keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck!  I will let you all know how the tests results came out!  Abby
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
  I have been going thru this for over a yr... last week it finally dawned on me wild high BP swings is the strangest symptom... Pheochromocytoma. It is the first time I read something that fit I have BP 110/70ish to 260/170ish gets worse with movement walking 10ft to the bathroom is enough to cause me to faint... in july I had a stroke due to BP I often feel like I'm burning up but my skin is ice cold and soaking sweat.  I have migraines but these headaches are different.
There are 2 types pheochromocytoma (adrenal gland tumor) and pseudopheochromocytoma due to deepseated emotional trauma that your not dealing with... I go to a therapist and we talk about everything and lorazapam doesn't help but the nitro gel patch does help for 1 to 2 hrs at a time.  My drs believe it is a pheo and have started hormonal tests.  I am a 40y/o f and my DHEA sulfate and testosterone levels are at a critical low my glucose is mildly high and I have a large amount of protein in my serum...   I already have a pituitary tumor, hypothyroidism and parathyroid problems.  I also have a strong family history of endocrine diseases...   if you think you have this disease call your pharmacist to make sure your meds are not causing it... then call your dr and insist on a 24hr urine for catacholomine and metaenephrine test.  Today is my "collection day" and I am willing to bet every cent I have that this is why I have been so deathly ill...  I have every symptom plus issues from when my BP goes up including a stroke... this is not something to screw around with if you truly believe this is your problem get it checked before you have a stroke or heart attack!!!!!
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