Endocrine System Functions: Symptoms of Endocrine Disorders

The endocrine system comprises of a complex network of glands, which release hormones and neurotransmitters which play a crucial role in regulating the body’s important functions including metabolism, cellular growth and repair, organ functioning, etc.

Though the body comprises of six main endocrinal glands, they are all regulated by the master gland i.

e. the pituitary gland, located in sinuses behind the brain. Here are the important endocrine glands and their functions,

  • Pituitary gland: Also referred to as the master gland, this gland regulates the functioning of the other endocrinal gland, especially the thyroid gland. This gland plays important role in development of bones, regulating female’s menstrual cycles and breast milk.
  • Thyroid gland: This gland is located around the neck and controls the body’s metabolism.
  • Adrenal Glands: Located above the kidneys, these glands release cortisol and other steroid hormone responsible for the fight or flight response. They also regulate blood pressure, heart beat and perspiration.
  • Ovaries and Testes: Ovaries present in females release female hormones like estrogen and progesterone while Testes present in males release testosterone.
    These hormones are responsible for the manifestation of the masculine or feminine characteristics.
  • Pancreas: The islet cells release the hormone insulin and glucagon, which regulate the uptake of sugar by the body cells.

Signs And Symptoms Of Endocrine Disorders

The endocrines are a complex network of glands, which have a feedback and control system which helps balance and regulates the hormones in the blood stream. There are several factors that may lead to endocrine disorder which may range from faulty dietary practices to lesions or tumor in endocrinal glands.

Depending upon the gland that is involved, the manifestations of the symptoms may vary significantly. Here are some signs and symptoms associated with certain forms of endocrine disorders,

  • Diabetes is the most common endocrine disorder which is characterized by symptoms like increased thirst, increased urination and sudden weight loss. The condition is associated with elevated blood sugar levels leading to delay in wound healing, frequent pustules on the skin, etc.
  • Thyroid disorder is the second most common endocrine disorder. Hypothyroidism is associated with reduced metabolism resulting in obesity, lethargy, tiredness, chilliness, etc. Hyperthyroidism is linked with signs like exophthalmos (protruding eyes), unexplained weight loss, irritability, hyperactivity, etc.
  • Adrenal insufficiency is another endocrine disorder characterized by too little cortisol and aldosterone. The symptoms include skin changes, dehydration, stomach upset, fatigue, etc.
  • Cushing disease is a condition characterized by over-stimulation of the adrenal gland which is associated with symptoms like increased heart rate, blood pressure, breathlessness, etc.
  • Gigantism (and acromegaly) is a condition associated with overproduction of the Growth Hormone by the pituitary gland. The condition is associated with larger than normal size of bones, muscles, prognatia, etc.
  • Polycystic Ovarian Disease is a condition characterized by overproduction of androgen resulting in infertility in females and is associated with symptoms like weight gain and hirsutism.

Diagnosis Of Endocrine Disorders

Endocrine disorder is can be diagnosed based on symptomatology presentation and evaluation by endocrinologists. There are series of investigations which vary depending upon the specific gland that is involved.

Blood test and urine tests are performed to check the hormonal levels. Imaging studies are performed at a later stage in order to confirm the diagnosis or pinpoint a nodular growth or a tumor. The diagnostic criteria may differ depending upon the condition or the endocrinal gland affected.

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