The endocrine system is made up of endocrine glands that release important hormones into the body's bloodstream. These hormones help control everything from metabolism to reproduction. The system regulates hormone production, and the hormones act as chemical messengers. Negative health consequences arise if there are interruptions to the endocrine system or if the system produces too many or too few hormones.
Most living creatures, including humans, mammals, and birds, have an endocrine system made up of glands, hormones, and receptors. The glands produce hormones. These hormones regulate many aspects of health, including growth, reproduction, metabolism, and more. They are chemicals messengers that deliver important information to receptors located on various organs and tissues. These messages govern various health processes.
The endocrine system plays essential roles in health. Too many hormones or too few can cause significant health problems, so the system must release just the right amount into the bloodstream. Many factors, however, can affect these hormone levels. Things like stress and infection can impact the endocrine system in various ways. People with related disorders generally require medical treatment.
As chemical messengers, hormones convey unique information depending on the role they play in the body. Moreover, only certain types of receptors are equipped to respond to chemical messages delivered by hormones. The latter travel all over the body, but receptors know to which messages they must respond. Hormones report on the body's development, reproductive function, and more.
The body’s hormones, as chemical messengers, control various bodily processes. They are involved in blood sugar control, bodily differentiation, the reproductive system, mood, and even in energy production. For the body to grow and function normally, the system must work well. The hormone-receptor relationship is integral to human function and overall health.
Estrogens and androgens are two examples of hormones produced within the endocrine system. Estrogens are essential to the development of the female reproductive system. Androgens support the development of male sex characteristics. Testosterone, for instance, is an androgen. Many other hormones have specific functions in the body.
Endocrine system glands are responsible for producing hormones. The thyroid gland, for example, produces two hormones: thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These hormones stimulate cells in the body and help control various processes such as growth, development, metabolism, and reproduction. The body’s adrenal glands make hormones in response to stress. They also help regulate things like blood pressure and water and salt balance. A problem with a gland can seriously impact the endocrine system.
The pituitary gland is the "master gland" -- it is quite small but has a big job. It is located at the brain’s base and is roughly the size of a pea. The pituitary gland secretes hormones that control other glands within the endocrine system. It makes growth hormone, prolactin (involved in milk production), hormones that stimulate the thyroid, and even hormones that control the amount of fluid in the body. It also receives messages from the hypothalamus, which drives this system and links it with the nervous system.
Certain conditions like thyroid disorders and diabetes can disrupt the endocrine system. For instance, the hormones that help control blood sugar can fail to do their job or struggle to do it well. In these instances, diabetes, a disease that disrupts blood sugar levels, can develop and impact the endocrine system and overall health. In general, eating a healthy diet and regular exercise should keep the endocrine system functioning as it should. If issues develop, individuals may require medical intervention.
Signs and symptoms of issues within the endocrine system include frequent urination, gaining weight or losing weight, experiencing tremors, sweating more than usual, experiencing nausea, and abnormal physical growth or development.
There are various endocrine disorders that can affect health. The most common one is diabetes, but people may also have hyperthyroidism (too much hormone production), hypothyroidism (too little hormone production), polycystic ovary syndrome, precocious puberty, Cushing's disease, and adrenal insufficiency. There are many treatments and therapies designed to alleviate such symptoms and disorders.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.