The endocrine system regulates tissue function, mood, metabolism, growth, development and also the reproductive process. It is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones. Hormones are the chemical substance produced in the body that regulate the activity of cells and organs.
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The endocrine system is important to the body as it influences the cells, organs and function of the human body. Endocrine signalling or cell signalling occurs when hormones are released that are targeted to act on distant cells in the body.
Did you know: Hormones are chemical messages. Each type of hormone has its own specific function.
Endocrine system organs
Let us look at the endocrine system organs in detail:
Hypothalamus is a collection of cells located in the lower central part of the brain. It is the main link between the endocrine system and the nervous system. Nerve cells in the hypothalamus control the pituitary glands.
This gland is located at the base of the brain just beneath the hypothalamus. It is the most important part of the endocrine system. It is also called the ‘master gland’ because it makes hormones that controls several other glands.
This gland is located in the middle of the brain. It produces a hormone that regulates sleep.
Thyroid is located in the front of the lower neck. It is shaped like the butterfly and produces the thyroid hormone, thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These two hormones together control the rate at which cells burn fuel from food so as to produce energy.
They are four tiny glands that function as a unit and are attached to the thyroid. They release the parathyroid hormone that helps to regulate the level of calcium in the blood with the help of calcitonin that is produced in the thyroid.
The Adrenal glands are two triangular glands located on the top of each kidney. It has two parts. Each part functions differently and produces a set of hormones. While the outer part regulates salt and water balance in the body, the inner part increases blood pressure and heart rate when the body experiences stress.
The hormones secreted by these glands play a role in pregnancy.
The pancreas produce and secrete digestive enzymes but they are also part of hormone secreting system. The pancreas produces two important hormones namely the insulin and glucagon. These hormones work together to maintain a steady level of sugar in the blood.
Endocrine system diseases
There are many different types of endocrine system diseases. The most common disease is diabetes. Others are adrenal insufficiency, cushing's disease, gigantism, hyperthyroidism, hypopituitarism, multiple endocrine neoplasia, polycystic ovary syndrome etc.
Endocrine disorders are grouped into two categories - diseases caused when the glands malfunction and produce too much or too little of the endocrine hormone and diseases caused due to development of tumors in the endocrine system.
How does the endocrine system work
Once the hormone is secreted it travels from the endocrine gland that produces it to the bloodstream and to the target cells. The target cells are the receiving cells. The target cells have receptors that latch on to the right hormone. These receptors then transmit the hormones to the inner cells. The right levels of hormones are maintained in the blood by the endocrine system.
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