The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce and release hormones that help control many important body functions, especially the body’s ability to change calories into energy that powers cells and organs. The endocrine system influences how your heart beats, how your bones and tissues grow, even your ability to make a baby. It plays a vital role in whether or not you develop diabetes, thyroid disease, growth disorders, sexual dysfunction, and a host of other hormone-related disorders.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate your body’s metabolism significantly, causing sudden weight loss, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nervousness or irritability. Several treatment options are available if you have hyperthyroidism. Doctors use anti-thyroid medications and radioactive iodine to slow the production of thyroid hormones. Sometimes, treatment of hyperthyroidism involves surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland. Although hyperthyroidism can be serious if you ignore it, most people respond well once hyperthyroidism is diagnosed and treated.
Hypothyroidism and Myxedema
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones. Women, especially those older than age 60, are more likely to have hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism upsets the normal balance of chemical reactions in your body. It seldom causes symptoms in the early stages, but, over time, untreated hypothyroidism can cause a number of health problems, such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.
Myxoedema is a term used synonymously with severe hypothyroidism. It is also used to describe a dermatological change that can occur in hypothyroidism, and some forms of hyperthyroidism.
Simple and Modular Goiter
Goiter (GOI-tur) is an abnormal enlargement of your thyroid gland. Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck just below your Adam’s apple. Although goiters are usually painless, a large goiter can cause a cough and make it difficult for you to swallow or breathe. The most common cause of goiter worldwide is a lack of iodine in the diet. In the United States, where the use of iodized salt is common, a goiter is more often due to the over- or underproduction of thyroid hormones or to nodules that develop in the gland itself. Treatment depends on the size of the goiter, your symptoms and the underlying cause. Small goiters that aren’t noticeable and don’t cause problems usually don’t need treatment.
Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder that develops when your pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone during adulthood. When this happens, your bones increase in size, including those of your hands, feet and face. Acromegaly usually affects middle-aged adults.
In children who are still growing, too much growth hormone can cause a condition called gigantism. These children have exaggerated bone growth and an abnormal increase in height. Because acromegaly is uncommon and physical changes occur gradually, the condition often isn’t recognized immediately; sometimes not for years. If not treated promptly, acromegaly can lead to serious illness and even become life-threatening. However, available treatments for acromegaly can reduce your risk of complications and significantly improve your symptoms, including the enlargement of your features.
Diabetes insipidus is an uncommon disorder characterized by intense thirst, despite the drinking of fluids, and the excretion of large amounts of urine. In most cases, it’s the result of your body not properly producing, storing or releasing a key hormone, but diabetes insipidus can also occur when your kidneys are unable to respond properly to that hormone. Rarely, diabetes insipidus can occur during pregnancy (gestational diabetes insipidus).
Cushing syndrome occurs when your body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol for a long time. The most common cause of Cushing syndrome, sometimes called hypercortisolism, is the use of oral corticosteroid medication. The condition can also occur when your body makes too much cortisol. Too much cortisol can produce some of the hallmark signs of Cushing syndrome — a fatty hump between your shoulders, a rounded face, and pink or purple stretch marks on your skin. Cushing syndrome can also result in high blood pressure, bone loss and, on occasion, diabetes. Treatments for Cushing syndrome can return your body’s cortisol production to normal and noticeably improve your symptoms. The earlier treatment begins, the better your chances for recovery.
Hirsutism and Virilizing Diseases of Women
Hirsutism is defined as the excessive growth of thick dark hair in an androgen-dependent pattern where hair growth in women is usually minimal or absent – eg, the face, chest, and areolae. It occurs as a result of increased androgen production, increased skin sensitivity to androgens, or both. Idiopathic hirsutism and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are the most common causes. When hirsutism (in women) is accompanied by other signs of virilism, it may be a manifestation of a more serious underlying disorder causing hyperandrogenism, such as an ovarian tumour or adrenal neoplasm.
Addison’s disease is a disorder that occurs when your body produces insufficient amounts of certain hormones produced by your adrenal glands. In Addison’s disease, your adrenal glands produce too little cortisol and often insufficient levels of aldosterone as well. Also called adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease occurs in all age groups and affects both sexes. Addison’s disease can be life-threatening. Treatment for Addison’s disease involves taking hormones to replace the insufficient amounts being made by your adrenal glands, in order to mimic the beneficial effects produced by your naturally made hormones.
Type I Diabetes
Type I diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. The far more common type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. Various factors may contribute to type 1 diabetes, including genetics and exposure to certain viruses. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it also can begin in adults. Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. But it can be managed. With proper treatment, people with type 1 diabetes can expect to live longer, healthier lives than did people with type 1 diabetes in the past
Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body’s important source of fuel. With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. More common in adults, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children as childhood obesity increases. There’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you may be able to manage the condition by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to manage your blood sugar well, you also may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.