Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Endocrine System


The endocrine system is comprised of endocrine glands and organs, which produce hormones. Hormones are substances or chemical messengers that affect many of the different processes that occurs in the body including:

  • normal growth and development
  • metabolism
  • sexual function
  • reproduction
  • mood
Endocrine glands are body structures that produce and secrete hormones exclusively. Major endocrine glands include the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, pineal, and adrenal glands.

Other organs of the body have cells that produce hormones but hormone production is not their only function. For example, the stomach, which has a major function in digestive processes but has cells that produce a hormone called gastrin. Other organs that have hormone-secreting cells include the pancreas, heart, small intestine, liver, testes, and the ovaries.

Diseases or disorders of the endocrine system occur when there is too much or too little hormone production. Disorders that results from too little or no production of hormone may include dwarfism, Addison's disease, hypoparathyroidism, and hypothyroidism.

Endocrine disorders caused by overproduction of hormones may include acromegaly, Cushing's syndrome, hyperparathyroidism, and Graves' disease, which is a form of hyperthyroidism.