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Your endocrine system is an important part of your body because it produces and regulates hormones. When it doesn’t work correctly, this can lead to serious problems with growth, mood, and more.

What Is the Endocrine System?

Have you ever wondered what your endocrine system does? It’s actually pretty amazing! Your endocrine system, which is made up of eight major organs, such as the pancreas, thyroid, ovaries, and testes, is responsible for making hormones and sending them throughout your body. These hormones are little chemical messengers involved in growth and development, digestion, breathing, blood circulation in the body, body temperature regulation, and of course your mood, as well as reproduction.As you can see, hormones are involved in a large part of your everyday life.

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So it’s really important that these hormones are manufactured and distributed properly. When any part of your endocrine system isn’t working correctly, you could experience some serious problems. Let’s take a look at what might go wrong and how it could affect you.

Improper Hormone Production

One way that your endocrine system might be faulty is if it produces too little or too much of a given hormone.

This leads to an imbalance of hormones throughout your body. Common examples of this are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones.

Think ‘hyper’ as in ‘overactive.’ Hypothyroidism is just the opposite: too little thyroid hormone is produced. When your body has too much thyroid hormone, you might experience weight loss, sweating, and a rapid heart rate.

With too little of these hormones, you could experience the opposite symptoms: fatigue, weight gain, and even depression.Growth hormone is another hormone that, when present in the wrong amounts, can cause problems in your body. Too much growth hormone from the pituitary gland leads to a condition known as gigantism, which is just what it sounds like.

The body grows too fast, leading to an abnormally-sized person. Too little growth hormone and you won’t grow enough, a condition known as dwarfism.By far one of the most common endocrine disorders in the U.S. is diabetes, which occurs when your blood sugar levels are too high.

Blood sugar is regulated by your pancreas, which produces the hormone insulin. Insulin helps bring blood sugar down, but if you are diabetic you don’t make enough insulin, leading to abnormally high blood sugar levels. Untreated, diabetes can lead to some really serious problems such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, and a loss of one or more of your limbs.There are also conditions that arise from an improper balance of the sex hormones. Turner syndrome is when a girl partially or completely lacks female sex chromosomes. Because your sex chromosomes carry many genes in addition to those that deal with gender, this can lead to problems with growth, development, and heart and kidney problems.

Boys can have problems with their sex hormones as well. A condition known as Klinefelter syndrome is when boys have at least two X chromosomes, instead of the normal single X chromosome. This can lead to sterility, issues with growth and development, and poor coordination, speech, and reading skills.

Endocrine Gland Tumors

In addition to an improper production or balance of hormones in the endocrine system, it’s also possible that the glands of the endocrine systems may develop tumors. Symptoms of the cancer will often depend on the organ that the tumor is located on, but in general, you may experience pain in a specific area, changes in your weight (either a rapid loss or gain), severe headaches and sweating, fatigue, anxiety, confusion, and even jaundice.Sometimes, the tumor doesn’t affect the gland’s ability to produce hormones, while other times it may interfere with that specific hormone production and balance.

And in some cases, the tumor may even produce additional hormones itself, which as you now know, can lead to a whole host of issues.

Lesson Summary

Your endocrine system is an important regulatory system in your body that produces hormones, which are involved in many aspects of your daily life, including growth, development, digestion, breathing, mood, and more. When issues arise in the endocrine system, it can lead to serious problems. For example, hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones. The opposite, hypothyroidism, is when too little thyroid hormone is produced.In general, too much or too little of something in the endocrine system is bad.

For example, too much growth hormone from the pituitary gland can lead to gigantism, which is when the body grows too fast, leading to an abnormally-sized person, or dwarfism, which is when the body doesn’t produce enough growth hormone and you don’t grow enough. There can also be problems with insulin. Too little insulin production from the pancreas, which helps bring blood sugar down, can lead to diabetes, which is a disease that can cause you to go blind or even lose a limb.There can also be problems in the reproductive system, such as Turner syndrome, which is when a girl partially or completely lacks female sex chromosomes, or Klinefelter syndrome, which is when boys have at least two X chromosomes, instead of the normal single X chromosome.

Cancers can also grow on endocrine glands, disrupting their normal functioning. And in some cases, the cancers can produce their own hormones, exacerbating the issues within your body.

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