What is the Endocrine System (FAQs)

What is the Endocrine System?

Endocrine System?

The endocrine system is a messenger system comprising feedback loops of the hormones released by internal glands of an organism directly into the circulatory system, regulating distant target organs. In vertebrates, the hypothalamus is the neural control center for all endocrine systems. In humans, the major endocrine glands are the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands. The study of the endocrine system and its disorders is known as endocrinology.

  • Glands located throughout the body;
  • Hormones that are made by the glands and released into the bloodstream or the fluid surrounding cells; and
  • Receptors in various organs and tissues that recognize and respond to the hormones.

 

What are endocrine disorders?

What is the Endocrine System? Endocrine disorders are diseases related to the endocrine glands of the body. The endocrine system produces hormones, which are chemical signals sent out, or secreted, through the bloodstream. Hormones help the body regulate processes, such as appetite, breathing, growth, fluid balance, feminization and virilization, and weight control.

endocrine systemThe endocrine system consists of several glands, including the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in the brain, adrenal glands in the kidneys, and thyroid in the neck, as well as the pancreas, ovaries and testes. The stomach, liver and intestines also secrete hormones related to digestion. Most common endocrine disorders are related to improper functioning of the pancreas and the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands.

Common endocrine disorders include diabetes mellitus, acromegaly (overproduction of growth hormone), Addison’s disease (decreased production of hormones by the adrenal glands), Cushing’s syndrome (high cortisol levels for extended periods of time), Graves’ disease (type of hyperthyroidism resulting in excessive thyroid hormone production), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune disease resulting in hypothyroidism and low production of thyroid hormone), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), and prolactinoma (overproduction of prolactin by the pituitary gland). These disorders often have widespread symptoms, affect multiple parts of the body, and can range in severity from mild to very severe. Treatments depend on the specific disorder but often focus on adjusting hormone balance using synthetic hormones.

 

Endocrine Glands

Endocrine glands are ductless glands of the endocrine system that secrete their products, hormones, directly into the blood. The major glands of the endocrine system include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus and adrenal glands. The hypothalamus and pituitary glands are neuroendocrine organs.

 

Where are Endocrine Glands Located in the Human Body?

What is Diabetes Mellitus? Types of Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly known as just diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by a high blood sugar level over a prolonged period of time. Symptoms often include frequent urination, increased thirst and increased appetite. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many health complications. Acute complications can include diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, or death. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, damage to the nerves, damage to the eyes and cognitive impairment.

Diabetes is due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced. There are three main types of diabetes mellitus:

  1. Type 1 diabetes results from failure of the pancreas to produce enough insulin due to loss of beta cells. This form was previously referred to as "insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus" (IDDM) or "juvenile diabetes". The loss of beta cells is caused by an autoimmune response. The cause of this autoimmune response is unknown.
  2. Type 2 diabetes begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. As the disease progresses, a lack of insulin may also develop. This form was previously referred to as "non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus" (NIDDM) or "adult-onset diabetes". The most common cause is a combination of excessive body weight and insufficient exercise.
  3. Gestational diabetes is the third main form, and occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop high blood sugar levels.

 

What is thyroid disease?

Thyroid disease is a general term for a medical condition that keeps your thyroid from making the right amount of hormones. Your thyroid typically makes hormones that keep your body functioning normally. When the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, your body uses energy too quickly. This is called hyperthyroidism. Using energy too quickly will do more than make you tired — it can make your heart beat faster, cause you to lose weight without trying and even make you feel nervous. On the flip-side of this, your thyroid can make too little thyroid hormone. This is called hypothyroidism. When you have too little thyroid hormone in your body, it can make you feel tired, you might gain weight and you may even be unable to tolerate cold temperatures.

These two main disorders can be caused by a variety of conditions. They can also be passed down through families (inherited).

 

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disorder characterized by low bone mass, micro-architectural deterioration of bone tissue leading to bone fragility, and consequent increase in fracture risk. It is the most common reason for a broken bone among the elderly.Bones that commonly break include the vertebrae in the spine, the bones of the forearm, and the hip. Until a broken bone occurs there are typically no symptoms. Bones may weaken to such a degree that a break may occur with minor stress or spontaneously. After the broken bone heals, the person may have chronic pain and a decreased ability to carry out normal activities.

Osteoporosis may be due to lower-than-normal maximum bone mass and greater-than-normal bone loss. Bone loss increases after menopause due to lower levels of estrogen. Osteoporosis may also occur due to a number of diseases or treatments, including alcoholism, anorexia, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, and surgical removal of the ovaries. Certain medications increase the rate of bone loss, including some antiseizure medications, chemotherapy, proton pump inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and glucocorticosteroids. Smoking, and too little exercise are also risk factors. Osteoporosis is defined as a bone density of 2.5 standard deviations below that of a young adult. This is typically measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.

Prevention of osteoporosis includes a proper diet during childhood and efforts to avoid medications that increase the rate of bone loss.

What Does an Endocrinologist Do?

The glands in a person's body release hormones. Endocrinologists treat people who suffer from hormonal imbalances, typically from glands in the endocrine system or certain types of cancers. The overall goal of treatment is to restore the normal balance of hormones found in a patient's body.

 

Common endocrine problems treated are:

  • Diabetes (sugar in the blood)
  • Thyroid disorders (thyroid swelling, thyroid cancer, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism)
  • Irregular menstruation (oligomenorrhoea & Amenorrhoea)
  • Obesity (overweight)
  • Short stature (being too short)
  • Tall stature (being too tall)
  • Young Diabetes / hypertension (age less than 30years)
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Osteoporosis (thin bones and repeated fractures)
  • Excessive thirst or hunger
  • Adrenal problems
  • Calcium related problems
  • Delayed puberty
  • Early puberty
  • Lack of sexual developmental
  • Pituitary problems
  • Problems with Sodium and Potassium metabolism
  • Impairment in male sexual function
  • Excessive hair growth in females
  • Abnormal genitalia
  • Genetic Disorders
  • Recurrent kidney stones