The endocrine system is a body system that helps in controlling the different important body functions by producing and releasing hormones. This system is comprised of a network of glands that produce these hormones.
The endocrine system influences the following:
- How the heart beats
- How the bones and tissues grow
- Ability to make a baby
- Ability to develop diseases like diabetes, thyroid disease, growth disorders, sexual dysfunction, and other hormone-related disorders.
What are Endocrine Diseases?
The endocrine system has a number of glands that comprise this system and each release a specific hormone into the bloodstream. This hormone would then travel to other cells through the blood and help control the body process.
Even a slight issue in the function of one or more glands can disrupt the delicate balance of the hormones in the body and cause endocrine diseases.
Endocrine diseases can be caused by the following main categories:
- Hormonal Imbalance: is the medical condition where a gland produces either too much or too little of the hormone. This condition can have many other causes too, like
- Endocrine feedback system issue
- Inability of a gland to stimulate another gland to release hormones
- Genetic Disorders
- Endocrine gland injury
- Endocrine gland tumor
- Lesions: like nodules or tumors, develop in the endocrine system that might affect the hormone levels.
Types of Endocrine Diseases
The different types of endocrine disorders are:
- Adrenal Insufficiency: is the condition where the adrenal gland produces only a little amount of cortisol and aldosterone. Patients experience fatigue, stomach upset, dehydration, and skin changes.
- Cushing’s Disease: is the medical condition where the pituitary gland hormone is overproduced, leading to an overactive adrenal gland, typically found in adults and children taking high doses of corticosteroid medications.
- Growth Hormone Problems: are caused when the pituitary gland overproduces the growth hormone leading to abnormal growth of the child. If the hormone is underproduced, it leads to stopping a child from growing.
- Hyperthyroidism: is the condition where the thyroid gland overproduces the thyroid hormone, leading to weight loss, fast heart rate etc., usually caused by an autoimmune disorder called Grave’s Disease.
- Hypothyroidism: is the condition where the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to fatigue, constipation etc. This can lead to slower development in children.
- Hypopituitarism: is the condition where the pituitary gland either too little or negligible amount of hormone, leading to a number of diseases and women not getting their periods.
- Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia I & II: are rare, genetic conditions that can cause parathyroid, adrenal and thyroid glands. This can lead to glands in producing more hormones.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): is a leading cause of infertility where androgens are produced excessively. This can lead to interference with the development of eggs and their release from the ovaries.
- Precocious Puberty: is the condition where the body releases sex hormones early in life leading to abnormally early puberty.
The Endocrinologist who is trained in the specialty of the endocrine system handles all problems of this system. Most of the symptoms differ depending on the gland that is involved. Most patients suffering from endocrine diseases experience fatigue and weakness.
The doctor confirms the diagnosis through blood and urine tests. Diagnostic imaging tests might be used to pinpoint a nodule or tumor. The treatment of the endocrine disease depends on the disease the patient suffers from.