Understanding the Endocrine System’s Functions

Hormones, Who Needs Them? You Do!

This is a topic that I have researched extensively. When I began having issues with weight gain and many other things, I began researching. I diagnosed my thyroid cancer before I could get doctors to take my complaints seriously.

Let’s begin with the endocrine system as a whole. The endocrine system consists of the Pituitary gland, Pineal gland, Thyroid gland, Parathyroids, Adrenal glands, Pancreas and for women, the Ovaries and for men the Testes. This network of glands work together to keep your body functioning properly.

The endocrine system’s processes include cellular metabolism, sexual development and reproduction, balancing of sugar, body temperature, regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, sleep cycles and even digestion.

The system works to keep the body balanced. This being said, if one gland is not functioning normally, it can throw off your other glands. Think of it as a business. Everybody has their job to do. If one person does not do their job, what happens? It throws productivity off.

It all starts with the hypothalamus. It is responsible for linking the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland.

Pituitary

The pituitary gland is often dubbed “the master gland” because its hormones control other parts of the endocrine system. The thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes. The pituitary doesn’t entirely run the show though. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary and the pituitary acts accordingly.

Pineal

Another gland found in the brain is the Pineal gland. It is a pea-sized gland. Its complete function is not fully understood. What is certain is that it produces and regulates some hormones, including melatonin. Which is essential for sleep.

Thyroid and Parathyroids

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is in the front of the neck. It is just below the voice box (larynx). The thyroid gland uses iodine from food to make two thyroid hormones that regulate the way the body uses energy.

The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands located just behind the thyroid gland. They produce a hormone that helps with controlling the amount of calcium in the blood.

Adrenal glands

The adrenal glands are located on the kidneys. They secrete the following:

  • stress hormones called glucocorticoids
  • salt-water balance regulators
  • androgens
  • epinephrine and norepinephrine

Pancreas

This gland secretes a pancreatic substance to help digest our food. It is also responsible for secreting glucose regulating hormones and insulin.

Thymus

The thymus is located behind the sternum and releases the thymosins which aids in immune function.

Ovaries and Testes

The ovaries are responsible for the production of the egg as well as the female steroid hormones, estrogen and progesterone.

The testes are responsible for production of sperm and the male sex hormone.

We don’t always think about these glands as a system as we should. When you look at them as a whole or a unit, it is mind-blowing all of the functions that the system is responsible for. Understanding how each gland functions and how the system functions is very important if you ever experience a hormone imbalance of any kind. Trust me you will.

There are many things that can lead to a hormonal imbalance. Some are a part of life such as menopause. Other causes: injury, tumor, genetic disorder, auto-immune disease and even a misfiring of signals between glands.

As a thyroid cancer survivor, I made it a priority to learn all about the endocrine system. Diabetes also runs on both sides of my family. Understanding how your body functions is vital. You are the head of your medical team. You need to know what is going on so that you can better communicate with your doctor.

References Sources:

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2018, by Yolanda Smith

https://www.news-medical.net/health/How-the-Endocrine-System-Works.aspx

Last Updated: March 28, 2018

https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=aa125286

 

 

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