Below you will find information from Vancouver physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, on the some of the primary glands that are found in the endocrine system and each of their responsibilities, as well as some of the most common disorders associated with this system.
Pituitary Gland: This pea-sized gland is located close to the base of the brain in an area that is known as the sella turcica. The pituitary gland is crucial because it is responsible for regulating all other glands in the endocrine system.
Pineal Gland: This gland secretes a hormone that is known as melatonin, which is released into your body at night to help you sleep.
Thyroid Gland: The thyroid gland is responsible for the secretion of three different hormones: Thyroxine (T4), Tri-iodothyronine (T3), and Calcitonin. These types of hormones are responsible for influencing both physical and mental development, metabolism, and other functions. In cases where you have an over or under-active thyroid, medication will be required. You can find much more information on hypo and hyperthyroidism by visiting Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog here.
Parathyroid Glands: Smaller glands of the endocrine system that are located in the neck and just behind the thyroid gland. These parathyroid glands are responsible for maintaining normal levels of calcium, as well as the metabolism of phosphorus.
Adrenal Glands: Located above each kidney, the adrenal glands consist of the adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla. They are responsible for the secretion of a number of different hormones including cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone, androgens, as well as dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine – which are vital for how your body responds to stress, your body’s metabolism, as well as controlling your blood pressure, just to name a few of the different functions.
One common disorder that is associated with the endocrine system is known as Acromegaly, a hormonal disorder that results in overproduction of GH in the pituitary gland. There are certain health complications that can occur as a result of acromegaly, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, as well as early death. Swelling of the body’s soft tissue, such as the hands or feet, is an early sign of this disorder. For example, if you notice a significant change in your ring or shoe size. You may also notice changes to your facial features, such as the jawbone as well as spacing between the teeth.
Addison’s disease is another disorder of the endocrine system, though it is rare. It is an autoimmune disease that can be caused by infection or cancer. Some of the symptoms of AD include weight loss, weakness, fatigue, anorexia, persistent fever and/or vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. In order to diagnose AD, a urine or blood test must be performed to check your body’s corticosteroid level. If that level is significantly low, you may have Addison’s disease.
Much more information on the endocrine system can be found here.