High blood pressure is a condition that affects millions of people all over the world, especially people with fibromyalgia. And it’s an extremely dangerous one. High blood pressure is often hard to recognize. It often causes no obvious symptoms until it has progressed to a dangerous point. And while there are many different conditions that can cause high blood pressure, there is one you may not even be aware of: a pheochromocytoma.
A pheochromocytoma is a form of benign tumor that grows on the adrenal glands. And it can lead to dangerously high blood pressure. So, what exactly do you need to know about a pheochromocytoma? And what can you do to treat it?
What Is A Pheochromocytoma?
The adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys. They play an important role in your body’s stress response, releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. And a pheochromocytoma is a tumor that develops on the adrenal glands. As a result, they stimulate the release of these hormones to dangerous levels.
And these extra stress hormones can cause problems with your cardiovascular system. We know that they lead to a faster heart rate, which leads to higher blood pressure and can gradually erode the walls of your arteries. Over time, the extra stress on your heart and veins can lead to strokes and heart attacks as the flow of blood become blocked.
In addition, high blood pressure can affect organs all over your body, from your kidneys to the eyes.
In most cases, we don’t know what causes these tumors to develop. And they are often benign, which means that they aren’t likely to become cancerous. But sometimes, the runaway cell reproduction in the tumor can cause mutations that become forms of cancer. In these cases, cancer can spread to nearby organs like the stomach, kidneys, or lungs.
The most common signs that you’re suffering from a tumor are episodes of a pounding heart rate, excessive sweating, headaches, shaky hands, and pale skin. Certain foods or activities can trigger these spells. And if you do experience one, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor. Getting treatment early on is the best way to prevent further damage to your organs.
How Can You Treat It?
The first step in getting treatment is to diagnose the condition. To do so, your doctor will want to test your blood to check your adrenaline levels. Chronically heightened levels of stress hormones are a good indication that you’re suffering from an adrenal tumor.
If the results of the blood tests are positive, your doctor will likely order an imaging of the adrenal glands using an X-ray to determine if there is a tumor present.
Once they find a tumor, the next step is to prepare a surgery to remove it. This is the only way to effectively treat the condition, as leaving the tumor where it is can result in chronic high blood pressure and the complications it causes.
In most cases, the surgery involves removing the adrenal gland with the tumor on it. The remaining gland then picks up the slack in regulating your hormones. But in some cases, you might develop tumors on both glands, which makes removal impossible. In that situation, the surgeon may instead to remove as much of the tumors as possible.
If the doctor finds that the tumor is cancerous, they will likely want to move you to radiation therapy. In radiation therapy, targeted radiation is used to shrink the tumor by killing off the cancerous cells. In time, this may force the tumor into remission, which is when it stops growing. This is the most common form of treatment, but the doctor may also suggest chemotherapy, where certain chemicals are used instead of radiation to perform the same role.
The good news is that these types of tumors are very rarely cancerous. So, treatment will likely consist of simply removing one of the adrenal glands, which will return your blood pressure to normal.
Again, the most important thing when it comes to high blood pressure is to get regular checkups with your doctor. Catching the signs of high blood pressure is the best way to prevent complications and even an early death. So, if you’re suffering from any of the symptoms of an adrenal tumor, make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible.
And let us know, have you suffered from a tumor on the adrenal gland? What did you do to treat it? Tell us in the comments section below.