Endocrine Disorders

The endocrine system includes tissues and organs that produce and release hormones. For example thyroid gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, and others. Different diseases are related to endocrine system problems and they occur usually due to hormonal imbalance or problems affecting tissues directly.

What is the Endocrine System?

Your endocrine system consists of several tissues and glands, which are used to produce and release hormones. Chemicals that control different functions in the body by carrying messages between your blood and organs, skin, muscles, and other tissues are called hormones. These chemicals are vital for life and health and are responsible for telling your body what and when to do it.


While monitoring the levels, the endocrine system releases hormones continuously in your blood. An individual has more than 50 hormones and they directly or indirectly affect all aspects of your health. Check below some examples:

  • Reproduction
  • Sexual function
  • Sleep-wake cycle
  • Mood
  • Growth and development
  • Homeostasis (constant mineral balance) including blood sugar regulation, fluid (water), electrolyte balance, body temperature, and blood pressure.
  • Metabolism

If you have too much or too low levels of a certain hormone, it may negatively affect your health. Thus, you may experience some unpleasant symptoms.


The endocrine system contains three types of tissues. Examples include:

Endocrine System Organs

A group of tissues that forms a structure responsible for important functions in the body is called an organ. Check below organs of the endocrine system:

  • Testicles (testes) – Small round organs underneath your penis in your scrotum are responsible to produce testosterone. This hormone is responsible for developing male characteristics (such as facial hair, deep voice, and others). Testes also make sperm and sex hormones.
  • Ovaries – These small oval-shaped glands are responsible to produce and store eggs and sex hormones. Sex hormones help to keep under control your menstrual cycle and pregnancy. These glands are located on either side of your uterus.
  • Adipose Tissue (body fat) – This tissue is located under your skin (subcutaneous fat), between your internal organs (visceral fat), and bone marrow adipose tissue (in the inner cavities of bones). These tissues release several hormones such as angiotensin, adiponectin, and leptin.
  • Pancreas – This organ releases two important hormones (insulin and glucagon), which are responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. Pancreas is in the back of your abdomen (belly).
  • Hypothalamus – This organ is within your brain and it is the main link between endocrine and nervous systems. It produces some hormones that your pituitary gland stores (vasopressin and oxytocin). Additionally, it makes and releases other two hormones (somatostatin and dopamine).

Endocrine System Glands

Glands make and release hormones directly into your bloodstream. These glans are situated throughout your body from head to toe. Examples include:

  • Adrenal Glands – These small glands are on the top of your kidneys and are responsible for releasing different hormones. They help to manage some processes in the body including metabolism, blood pressure, stress response, and others.
  • Parathyroid Glands – Usually, these four small glands are located behind your thyroid but sometimes exist along your esophagus or in your chest (ectopic parathyroid glands). Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is the hormone that these glands release. This hormone helps to control levels of calcium in the blood.
  • Thyroid Gland – Hormones that release this gland, control your metabolism. This gland is located at the front of your neck.
  • Pituitary Gland – It is situated at the base of your brain below the hypothalamus. This gland releases 8 hormones and some of them trigger the endocrine glands to release hormones.
  • Pineal Gland – Melatonin is the hormone that is released by this gland. The pineal gland is located in your brain (the back part of your corpus callosum).

Other Tissues That Release Hormones

The following organs do not take part in the endocrine system. However, they have more significant functions or roles. For example:

  • Placenta – A temporary endocrine organ is the placenta and it forms during pregnancy. This organ produces hormones important to maintain a healthy pregnancy and prepare the body for labor.
  • Heart – In case you experience hypertension (high blood pressure), your heart releases two hormones (A and B-type natriuretic peptide).
  • Liver – This organ also makes hormones such as angiotensinogen and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). It is considered a part of the digestive system.
  • Kidneys – These organs produce hormones erythropoietin and renin. They also play an important role in the body because they filter your blood.
  • Digestive Tract (stomach and small intestine) – Organs located in the digestive tract also produce some hormones such as gastrin and ghrelin, important for your metabolism.


However, there are many health conditions related to endocrine system issues. Generally, abnormal hormone levels are the main cause of endocrine diseases. Furthermore, problems that directly impact the endocrine system (including glands, organs, and tissues) mostly are benign and cancerous tumors. Check below examples:

Diabetes and Metabolic Health Conditions:

  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity

Endocrine Cancers and Tumors:

  • Adrenal tumors
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Parathyroid cancer or tumors

Thyroid Disease:

  • Thyroiditis
  • Thyroid nodule
  • Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism

Sexual development, function, and reproduction diseases:

  • Amenorrhea (absent periods)
  • Growth hormone deficiency (gigantism or acromegaly)
  • Hormone-related infertility
  • Hormonal acne
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Menopausal disorders
  • Hypogonadism
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Calcium and bone health conditions:

  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Osteopenia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hypercalcemia and hypocalcemia


A healthcare professional who specializes in the endocrine system and diseases related to hormones is called an endocrinologist. Additionally, pediatric endocrinologists help to treat endocrine diseases in children under 18 years old.

Furthermore, certain endocrine conditions may require more physicians. It means that if cancer affects endocrine tissues, you will need an oncologist and other cancer physicians.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to keep a healthy endocrine system?

Some conditions cannot be prevented (such as autoimmune diseases). However, the following steps may help you to maintain a healthy endocrine system. For example:

There are some chemicals (endocrine disrupters) that may negatively affect your endocrine system. For example:

  • Cosmetics
  • Toys
  • Carpets
  • Pesticides
  • Food and drinks package

For more details, talk with your healthcare professional.

What are 4 major endocrine diseases?

  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Gigantism (acromegaly)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)

If you suspect you have any of the diseases listed above, contact a healthcare provider at once.

How do you know if something is wrong with your endocrine system?

You will notice the following symptoms. Examples include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Sexual problems
  • Slowed growth in children
  • Infertility
  • Unexplained weight or mood changes

Contact your physician if experience any of the symptoms listed above or any other effects.

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