Brief Summary of the Endocrine System

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The field of study dealing with the endocrine system and its disorders is endocrinology, a branch of internal medicine. The endocrine system is an umbrella term used to describe the complexity of different types of endocrine glands which are responsible to help the body carry out many of its functions. This system regulates our mood, growth, metabolism, tissue development, sexual functions and reproductive process. The endocrine system is made of a series of glands that produce chemicals called hormones. Like many medical terms, it originates from the Greek words "endo" meaning inside, within, and "crinis" for secrete. The endocrine system is an information signal system similar to the nervous system, yet its effects and mechanisms are different. The endocrine system's effects are slow to initiate, and prolonged in their response, lasting for hours to weeks. The nervous system sends information very quickly, and responses are generally short lived. These endocrine glands secrete hormones directly into the blood stream, rather than through a duct. That is the reason why, the glands are also known as ductless glands. Additional features of endocrine glands are, in general, their vascularity, and usually the presence of intracellular vacuoles or granules storing their hormones. The following essay would provide you with a quick overview on the subject of the endocrine system, the individual glands that make up this system as well as their functions.

Pituitary Gland

This gland has its location at the base of the brain. It is known as the master gland, because it

is responsible to control the function of other glands to put forth their hormones. Growth,

body metabolism, sexual development and reproduction happen to be the elements which

come under the domain of the pituitary gland. The pituitary also secretes anti-diuretic

hormone, prolactin, and oxytocin, a hormone which causes contractions of the uterus during

labor.

Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is a section of the brain responsible for hormone production. The

hypothalamus' primary function is homeostasis, which is to maintain the body's overall

function and keep it balanced. The hormones produced by this area of the brain govern body

temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep, rhythm, moods, sex drive, and the release of other

hormones in the body. Hypothalamic hormones include thyrotropin-releasing,

gonadotropin-releasing, growth hormone-releasing, corticotrophin-releasing, somatostatin,

and dopamine hormones. These hormones release into the blood through the capillaries,

traveling to the pituitary gland where their effects are exerted. Oxytocin and vasopressin are

also hypothalamic hormones.

Thyroid Gland

Just below the Adam's apple, is located what is known as the thyroid gland. The thyroid

gland functions by releasing hormones called thyroxine, triiodothyronine and calcitonin.

These hormones play vital roles in regulating metabolism, body heat production and bone

growth.

Pancreas

Pancreas is the endocrine gland that is situated in the abdominal region, behind the stomach.

One of the major pancreas function is maintaining appropriate levels of sugar throughout the

body. The hormones which get secreted into the blood stream by these glands serve to

control proper digestion and blood sugar regulation, the body's chief source of energy.

Insulin and glucagon are known to be the important hormones produced by the glands.

Adrenal Glands

The adrenals are two small glands which sit on top of each kidney. In hormone production,

there are two parts of these glands which comes into play. One is known as the adrenal

cortex. It is known to secrete steroid hormones which are essential for digestion and sexual

maturity. Hydrocortisone effects metabolism and androgens such as DHEA and aldosterone,

maintains blood pressure and the body's salt and...
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