Well, let’s break it down, then.
The adrenal glands secrete corticosteroids, right? So, what do corticosteroids do? As I understand it, they’re needed for regulating the convertion of carbohydrates into their many, varied, and exciting forms and to help regulate the sodium-potasium pump.
Alright, let’s think about what kind of effects not being able to interconvert your carbohydrates and regulate your sodium and potasium levels will have on the body.
So, converting carbohydrates, what is that good for? Well, you need glucose for direct energy production, so you need to change other carbohydrates into glucose in order to use them. You’ve only got about a twenty-four hour supply of glucose, so if you can’t convert other carbohydrates you’re going to run out very fast. In this respect, someone without adrenal glands would be forced to eat a very planned, regular diet much like a diabetic would (ignoring insulin, for the sake of explaination).
If you can’t convert carbohydrates and don’t have a very well managed diet, you would end up with an unusually high amount of complex carbos in the blood, and not enough usable glucose in the cells. Sound familiar? Yup. If I don’t miss my guess, it would be very similar to diabetic shock and (eventual) coma. You would see severe and abrupt weight loss, a general slowing down and weakness, loss of coordination, and eventual death.
And if that’s not enough fun for you, we’ve still got the effects of the sodium-potasium pump. You need that thingamajig to regulate the amounts of dissolved ions in your tissue. Now, fluids always tend towards an equal concentration of dissolved ions throughout the solution. The cell membrane (that thing that keeps all the goo in) is permiable to both of these ions. In the absense of a pump, sodium will leak into the cell and potasium will leak out, though potasium leaks much more slowly (I may have those two reversed, but I think that’s right).
Both ions are positive, so you end up with a slightly negative charge outside the cell and a slightly positive charge inside the cell (since more of the sodium leaks out). This is the case in all cells, but it is especially important for neurons. It’s that electrical potential (ie. potential energy stored up because the negative and positive charges “want” to balance out) that allows your nerves to fire. Normally, a sufficient amount of stimulation will cause the nueron to fire, and those charges will balance out all the way down the axon (the outbound portion of the neuron) and stimulate whatever it is that particular axon connects to (a mucle, another nueron, a gland, etc). If the potential isn’t high enough, the axon can’t fire. Think of a rubber band: if you don’t pull it back far enough, you can’t snap it forward.
So, what would happen if your pump isn’t working right? I don’t know a heck of a lot about the nervous system, but I would imagine that you’d see lots of twitching, possible insanity, and a slow decay of awareness and motor ability. It’s actually somewhat similar to getting tenure, now that I think of it.
It should also be noted that removing the adrenal glands won’t stop you from getting stressed. It will only eliminate some of the things your body does to deal with that stress. In the long run, it would have the opposite effect than that intended, even if you didn’t die.
We’re all gonna die, baby. I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.