Endocrine Systems Overview

Endocrine Systems Overview

The endocrine system is composed of glands and organs that manufacture hormones. These hormones are responsible for regulating different bodily functions, and are secreted by the glands directly into the blood. This is because the glands of this system do not have ducts. Hormones are responsible for metabolism, sexual development as well as growth.

The endocrine system has to work in conjunction with the kidneys, nervous system, reproductive system, stomach and pancreas. Furthermore, the endocrine system also manages and regulates these systems, so that all the functions of these systems occur without fail.

The glands that form the endocrine system include ovaries, testes, thyroid, pituitary, islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, adrenals and parathyroid. However, it is important to note that just because an organ secretes hormones, it is not labeled as part of the endocrine system. A good example would be the kidneys. They produce a hormone known as renin, which is responsible for controlling blood pressure, and erythropoietin, which is responsible for production of RBCs. Also, not all glands present in the body are part of the endocrine system. For instance, sweat glands.

Majority of the hormones produced by the system are proteins, but there are some that can be steroids. Each hormone produced by the system works differently. For instance, oxytocin that is produced and released by the pituitary is responsible for causing the uterus to contract, while parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid glands helps in the formation of bones. Hence, every single hormone in the body has a specific task to perform.

When the endocrine system is adversely affected due to health issues, aging or chronic disease, the body faces an imbalance in the hormones. Even the surroundings, genetics and stress can affect the system and thereby have an effect on the levels of hormones in the body. There are many health conditions that can occur due to problems with hormones in the body. One of the most well-known examples of hormonal imbalance is diabetes. In this disease, the blood sugar levels increase as the pancreas does not produce enough of insulin. It can also occur when the body is unable to use the insulin properly.

Due to problems related to the pituitary, growth is affected. A person can end up being extremely tall, referred to as gigantism, or may be extremely short, referred to as dwarfism. These height-related problems are often seen in kids. As per the Hormone Foundation, more than six thousand disorders are present due to imbalance in hormones. However, most of these disorders are considered to be rare.

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