Endocrine System: Facts, Functions and Diseases
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things.
The endocrine system is made up of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries (in females) and testicles (in males).
List of Endocrine Disorders
- Addison’s Disease and Adrenal Insufficiency
- Adrenal Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer: Anaplastic Cancer
Causes and treatment of endocrine diseases
Diabetes, the most common disease of the endocrine system, can be linked to obesity, diet and family history. To diagnose diabetes, it needs to do an oral glucose tolerance test with fasting.
It is also important to understand the patient’s health history as well as the family history.
Tumors — both benign and cancerous — can also disrupt the functions of the endocrine system. Infections and medications such as blood thinners can also cause adrenal deficiencies.
Diabetes is treated with pills or insulin injections. Managing other endocrine disorders typically involves stabilizing hormone levels with medication or, if a tumor is causing an overproduction of a hormone, by removing the tumor. Treating endocrine disorders takes a very careful and personalized approach, as adjusting the levels of one hormone can impact the balance of other hormones.
What is an endocrinologist?
After completing four years of medical school, people who want to be endocrinologists then spend three or four years in an internship and residency program. These specialty programs cover internal medicine, pediatrics, or obstetrics and gynecology, according to the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Endocrinologists-in-training then spend two or three more years learning how to diagnose and treat hormone conditions. Overall, an endocrinologist’s training will take more than 10 years after the undergraduate degree. They are certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Endocrinologists typically specialize in one or two areas of endocrinology, such as diabetes or infertility. These specialists treat patients with fertility issues and also assess and treat patients with health concerns surrounding menstruation and menopause.