The Endocrine System

It is close to the limits of this website to give you an in-depth medical view of the Endocrine system and its hormones, mainly because the system influences almost every cell, organ and function of our bodies, and there is only one of me plus, the endocrine system covers so much information possibly eight or ten pages (just to outline). Other parts of my website would suffer while I gathered, researched, checked for miss information against my course work and other sources, digested, and regurgitated and produced my own information draft on each subject and that’s before it gets to be on the website. However, it is possible to give an overview of the collection of glands and released hormones that make up the endocrine system. If you want to know more then I would recommend Kids there you will find a much more in-depth look at the Endocrine system. You can read up on the hypothalamic and pituitary hormones as well as others, and it is not in medical jargon.

So what does it do… In a nut shell …. Well it is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism, including the sexual function and reproductive processes. Like I said almost the whole body.

Very much like the nervous system which sends electrical messages to control and coordinate the body, the endocrine system has and does a similar job, but uses chemicals to ‘communicate’.

These particular chemical messengers are known as hormones, (unlike the nervous system which sends its messages via nerve cells) and at the end of each nerve cell a chemical substance called a neurotransmitter is released. This chemical carries the nerve cell signal between cell ends. The endocrines system hormones transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another using our blood vessels to do their job.

These chemical messenger hormones travel our blood vessels on the way they pick up special proteins which bind to some of the hormones. The proteins act as carriers, these carriers control the amount of hormone that is available to interact with and affect the target cells, affecting only the cells that had been programmed to receive them, then continue to execute what ever message they received.

The level of hormones in our bodies can be influenced by several factors such as: infection, stress, and changes in the balance of fluid and minerals in our blood.

What goes Wrong

Diseases of the endocrine system are common, including conditions such as diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, and obesity. Endocrine disease is characterized by dysregulated hormone release (a productive pituitary adenoma), inappropriate response to signalling (hypothyroidism), lack of a gland (diabetes mellitus type 1, diminished erythropoies is in chronic renal failure), or structural enlargement in a critical site such as the testis (toxic multinodular goitre). Hypofunction of endocrine glands can occur as a result of loss of reserve, hyposecretion, agenesis, atrophy, or active destruction. Hyperfunction can occur as a result of hypersecretion, loss of suppression, hyperplastic or neoplastic change, or hyperstimulation.

In general it means a disorder of the endocrine system results of to much, or to little of a particular hormone. A number of reasons could be:
congenital in origin, while others may be caused by autoimmune disease, which would include some forms of diabetes mellitus, malignant or benign tumours, injury, or certain drugs.

Why Use Drugs

Synthetic versions of natural hormone preparations are often prescribed to treat deficiency. There are times when drugs may be given to stimulate increased hormone production. Diabetes is one such example, here oral diabetic drugs can be given to encourage the pancreas cells to produce more insulin providing the pancreas is still capable of producing a little insulin, on the other hand drugs can be prescribed to reduce over-activity of the gland.

There are other certain conditions where hormones or drugs are used. Corticosteroids related to adrenal hormones are prescribed to relieve inflammation and to suppress immune system activity. Female sex hormones are used to treat menstrual problems as well as being used for contraception.Several types of cancer are treated with female sex hormones.

Cancer is a general term that is used to describe a wide range of disorders. Of late other drugs have been found that stimulate the immune system and attack certain cancers much more selectively, but that area is still in the works.

Note: The major drugs used to treat problems in this area:
Corticosteroids, Diabetes, Thyroid Disorders, Pituitary Disorders, and Male and Female Sex Hormones.

Endocrine System

The Pituitary Gland lies at the base of the brain and produces a number of hormones which regulate growth, our sexual and reproductive development, as well as stimulating other endocrine glands.

The Thyroid Gland produces thyroxine which is used to regulate metabolism (chemical reactions that occur in living organisms to maintain life). Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism may occur if the thyroid does not function correctly.

The Adrenal Glands which are located on the top of both kidneys produce hormones that regulate the body’s mineral and water content, as well as reducing inflammation.

The Pancreas produces insulin, to help regulate blood sugar levels, and glucagon, which helps the liver and muscles to store glucose.

The Kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin which is a glycoprotein hormone that controls erythropoiesis, or red blood cell production. Individuals with kidney failure become anaemic because of the lack of this hormone.

The Ovaries are oval shaped. The ovary (for a given side) is located in the lateral wall of the pelvis in a region called the ovarian fossa. The ovaries secrete oestrogen and progesterone which is responsible for female sexual and physical development.

The Testes produce testosterone, which controls the development of male sexual and physical characteristics.