Endocrine System: Overview, Functions & Organs
Throughout our day, we often laugh, sometimes cry, and maybe even get a little irritable when we are overdue for a snack! It is hard to imagine that there are tons of chemicals in our body that control how we feel and how we respond to changes in our body throughout the day. This system is called the endocrine system and is a collection of organs that help us regulate our energy, mood, and overall growth and development.
The Major Organs of the Endocrine System
The pituitary gland is one of the most important glands of the endocrine system. It is one of the control centers, as it releases 8 hormones that all have different functions! From giving birth to building muscle, the pituitary gland does it all!
Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands
The thyroid and parathyroid glands release thyroid hormone and parathyroid hormone, which are essential for how quickly cells burn energy, known as the metabolism, as well as calcium levels in the blood. These important glands ensure that you are using and storing enough energy, and that your bones grow!
The adrenal glands are located right on top of your kidneys and play an important role in controlling salt and water levels in your body. In a previous article, we discussed the kidneys and osmosis, and these glands release aldosterone which allows for water to move effectively throughout the body.
This organ participates in both digestion and blood sugar regulation. It is important to make sure that all of your organs have access to sugar or glucose for energy, but too much can cause damage to your kidneys and other organ systems. The pancreas releases a hormone called insulin which helps your cells absorb sugar to create energy.
Ovaries and Testes
These organs are located in the male (testes) and female (ovaries) reproductive systems, and regulate voice changes, changes in your physical appearance as you get older, and other features as you develop over time.
What happens when things go wrong?
Our endocrine system is a complex web of hormones and organs that fine tune our growth, energy levels and ultimately quality of life. Because of this, there are many ways that any part of our endocrine system can malfunction, but there are cool treatments to resolve these problems as well.
One common disease related to the endocrine system is diabetes. Diabetes in general is a disease where the body does not respond to or produce insulin, and therefore the pancreas cannot regulate your blood sugar. You may know a family member or friend with diabetes, and you may have observed them taking insulin using a pump or device. There are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disease, which means that the person was born with a defect in the immune system which causes your immune cells that normally attack disease to also damage the pancreas. It makes it difficult for the pancreas to release insulin, and you can no longer use the sugar you eat for energy. We discussed earlier the role of the pancreas, and it Is clear how this could pose a problem in someone’s daily life.
Type II diabetes is developed over time and is caused by a decreased response, or sensitivity, to insulin often associated with a high sugar diet. Like type I diabetes, it can be difficult to make energy, and there can be damage to other important organs in the body. Both types of diabetes can be treated by taking extra insulin, and this treatment is only one of the many examples of how innovative medical treatments can change the world. Take some time and reflect on how having a disease like this could impact your daily life, and the importance of your endocrine system!
Author: Sydni Britton