Endocrine System Diseases And Disorders: Causes And Symptoms

The endocrine system comprises of various glands that manufacture and release hormones which control vital body functions.

Each gland of the endocrine system manufactures and releases particular hormones in to the blood. These hormones travel through the blood to the cells of the body and govern and coordinate many body processes.

The endocrine system controls:

  • Growth and development
  • Metabolism
  • Mood
  • Sexual function

If the level of hormones is too low or too high, you will develop a hormone disorder.

A disorder also occurs when the body fails to respond to hormones as it is supposed to.

The endocrine glands in our body are:

  • Pituitary gland: Located at the base of the brain. It is the master gland because it influences most other glands.
  • Thyroid: Located in the front of the neck; it regulates metabolism.
  • Parathyroid: Four tiny glands in the neck that play a role in bone development.
  • Adrenal glands: Two glands situated on top of the kidneys which release the hormone cortisol.
  • Hypothalamus: Located in the middle brain, it tells the pituitary when to release hormones.
  • Ovaries: release eggs and manufacture the sex hormones.
  • Islet cells in the pancreas: Release of the insulin and glucagon.
  • Pineal gland: Located in the centre of the brain and regulates sleep patterns.
  • Testes: Manufacture male sex hormones and sperm.
  • Thymus: Situated in the upper chest, it develops the body’s immune system early in life.

The slightest malfunction in one or more of these glands can disrupt the balance of hormones in your body and lead to an endocrine disorder.

Symptoms Of Endocrine System Disorders

  • Adrenal insufficiency: When the adrenals release inadequate amounts of cortisol and aldosterone symptoms such as exhaustion, dehydration, skin alterations and Addison’s disease develop.
  • Cushing’s disease: An over-production of a pituitary gland hormone triggers an overactive adrenal gland.
  • Gigantism and Dwarfism: If the pituitary manufactures large amounts of the growth hormone, a child’s bones grow abnormally fast. On the other hand, if the growth hormone level is insufficient, the growth gets stunted.
  • When excessive amounts of thyroid hormone are produced, this will result in weight loss, sweating, hair fall and heart disorders.
  • When the thyroid does not synthesize adequate thyroid hormone, there will occur – weight gain, exhaustion, constipation, and depression.
  • The pituitary gland may synthesize little or no hormones. It may be caused by a number of different diseases.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome. An overproduction of androgen affects the development of eggs and their release from the female ovaries; it causes infertility.

What Causes Endocrine System Disorders?

Endocrine disorders develop when a gland manufactures inadequate amounts or too much of a hormone.

  • The endocrine system’s feedback mechanism controls the balance of hormones in the bloodstream. If the body has insufficient or too much of a certain hormone, the feedback system sends a message to the gland to remedy the problem. In case the feedback mechanism has difficulty in keeping the optimal level of hormones in the blood or if your body fails to clear them out of the blood properly, an imbalance occurs.
  • When a gland fails to stimulate another gland to release hormones, it can disrupt the entire endocrinal equilibrium.
  • A genetic disorder is an important cause.
  • Infection of the glands can also afflict the release of hormones.
  • Trauma to a gland
  • Tumor of a gland

Treatment:  The treatment regimen depends upon the precise cause and the gland that has been affected. It is vital that you confer with your health care provider, carry out investigations and ascertain the exact cause to start the correct treatment.