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Understanding the Causes of Endocrine Disorders

The Endocrine system in the body is tasked with coordinating the production of hormones and how the different body organs respond to them. It is majorly made up of glands that produce the hormones including the pituitary gland, adrenal glands, hypothalamus, ovaries, islets of the pancreas, parathyroid, pineal gland, thyroid, thymus and testes. When the functioning of these organs is affected disorders arise. These are what are referred to as endocrine disorders.

endocrine-organsThere are many endocrine disorder but they can all be broadly classified as hypersecretion, hyposecretion or tumor disorders. In hypersecretion disorders the glands release too much hormone while in hyposecretion disorders the glands release too little hormones. Either way, the body’s normal functioning is affected resulting in disease. In tumor disorders, the cells in the glands divide abnormally. This is characterized by the formation of a mass of tissue which could be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). These growths may or may not affect hormone levels but many at times they result in disease.

A mechanism known as feedback mechanism is normally applied by the endocrine system to correct the hormonal levels. These include a positive and negative feedback all of which aim at correcting any excess or little levels to their optimum values. Negative feedback mechanism works to increase the levels of a particular hormone when the levels are too low and decrease the levels if they are too high. On the other hand positive feedback mechanism works to increase a hormone more or decrease it more depending on what stimulus is applied. Endocrine disorders arise when these mechanisms become faulty and do not work. This causes a particular hormone to be too much or too little in the bloodstream affecting how the body normally operates. These feedback mechanisms are what make endocrine disorders complex.

Other than feedback mechanism problems, there are many other triggers of endocrine disorders. The most common include disease and infections, injury to the endocrine organ and inherited disorders like congenital hypothyrodism. Another common cause of endocrine disorders is the inability of one endocrine gland to stimulate another. This is especially significant because the endocrine system is highly dependent on sequential stimulation of glands. A stimulus in the body activates one gland and this gland produces a hormone that stimulates another gland and so on until the actual hormone that counters the stimuli is released hence terminating the sequence. For instance, when one is stressed the hypothalamus is stimulated to release Corticotropin Releasing Hormone which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone that stimulates the release of cortisol hormone by the adrenal gland. This cortisol in turn deals with the initial stimulus which is stress. In case any of the organs is affected, the initial stimulus remains unsolved resulting in a disorder.