What are endocrine disorders?

Endocrine disorders are diseases related to the endocrine glands of the body. The endocrine system produces hormones, which are chemical signals sent out, or secreted, through the bloodstream. Hormones help the body regulate processes, such as appetite, breathing, growth, fluid balance, feminization and virilization, and weight control.

Endocrine Problems Spotlight

The endocrine system consists of several glands, including the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in the brain, adrenal glands in the kidneys, and thyroid in the neck, as well as the pancreas, ovaries and testes. The stomach, liver and intestines also secrete hormones related to digestion. Most common endocrine disorders are related to improper functioning of the pancreas and the pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands.

Common endocrine disorders include diabetes mellitus, acromegaly (overproduction of growth hormone), Addison’s disease (decreased production of hormones by the adrenal glands), Cushing’s syndrome (high cortisol levels for extended periods of time), Graves’ disease (type of hyperthyroidism resulting in excessive thyroid hormone production), Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune disease resulting in hypothyroidism and low production of thyroid hormone), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), and prolactinoma (overproduction of prolactin by the pituitary gland). These disorders often have widespread symptoms, affect multiple parts of the body, and can range in severity from mild to very severe. Treatments depend on the specific disorder but often focus on adjusting hormone balance using synthetic hormones.

Modern treatment is generally quite effective for endocrine disorders, and severe consequences of endocrine dysfunction are rare. However, untreated endocrine disorders can have widespread complications throughout the body.

While endocrine disorders do not usually require hospitalization, in some cases they may lead to severe symptoms. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or difficulty thinking clearly.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for endocrine disorders and have persistent bothersome symptoms, as they may indicate a more serious condition.


SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of endocrine disorders?

The symptoms of endocrine disorders can range from mild or even nonexistent to serious and affecting your entire body and overall feeling of well-being. Specific symptoms depend on the specific part of the endocrine system affected.

Common symptoms of diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is the most common endocrine disorder and occurs when the pancreas either does not produce su... Read more about endocrine disorderssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes endocrine disorders?

Endocrine disorders arise because of problems with the glands of the endocrine system. Of the many potential endocrine disorders, some of the most common relate to problems with the pancreas or with the pituitary, thyroid, or adrenal glands.

Causes of endocrine disorders

A number of factors are believed to cause endocrine disorders. Types and causes of endocrine disorde... Read more about endocrine disorderscauses

TREATMENTS

How are endocrine disorders treated?

In many cases, endocrine disorders may be symptomless or mild enough to not require treatment. Symptoms can arise from excess hormone production or a hormone deficiency. When symptoms of endocrine disorders are bothersome, they can generally be treated by correcting the hormone imbalance. This is often done by means of synthetic hormone administration. In cases such as prolactinoma, where a non... Read more about endocrine disorderstreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Diabetes and the Endocrine System


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