The endocrine diseases affect the endocrine diseases, or those whose hormones, once produced, are released directly into the bloodstream, to control organs, tissues and cells even far away.
The most important endocrine glands in our body are:
- The pituitary gland, located at the base of the skull, near the optic nerves, which controls the endocrine and metabolic activity of the entire body through the secretion of numerous hormones, including the somatotropic hormone (GH, growth hormone), which stimulates bone growth; prolactin, which stimulates milk production in women after childbirth, thyrotropin, which acts on the thyroid gland, and corticotropin, which acts on the adrenal glands by stimulating metabolism.
- The hypothalamus, a brain structure located between the two hemispheres of the brain, which performs a dual function of control over the production by the pituitary gland of different hormones and over the activity of the vegetative nervous system.
- The thyroid gland, located in the neck, which controls many of the functions of our body through the production of the hormones T3, or triiodiotironine, and T4, or thyroxine, and calcitonin. The thyroid gland is able to influence breathing, body temperature, heart rate, central nervous system development and body growth.
- The parathyroids, placed behind the thyroid, which produce the parathormon, a hormone that regulates the levels of calcium in the blood.
- The epiphysis, located in the back of the brain, which produces the hormone melatonin, which regulates the circadian rhythm (sleep-wake).
- The pancreas, whose main function is to produce insulin and glucagon, which control the concentration of glucose in the blood.
- The adrenal glands, placed above the kidneys, which produce various hormones (catecholamines such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, and steroid hormones such as aldosterone, which helps regulate blood pressure, cortisol and some sex hormones). They are involved in regulating water and salt metabolism, carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, sexual character development and response to stressful events.
- The gonads, i.e. ovaries and testicles, which produce sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in men, whose function is to control sperm production.
Endocrine disorders are caused by one of these situations:
- Excessive or insufficient secretion of a hormone by a specific endocrine gland (hormonal imbalance).
- Development of lesions (such as nodules or neoplasms) in the endocrine system, which may or may not affect hormone levels.
The main diseases affecting the endocrine system are:
- Thyroid pathologies: including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis, goiter, thyroid nodule and thyroid neoplasms.
- Pituitary pathologies: including hypopituitarism, hyperprolactinemia, growth hormone deficiency (GH), acromegaly and gigantism.
- Pathologies of parathyroid and phospho-calcium metabolism: including osteoporosis, hypoparathyroidism and primary and secondary hyperparathyroidism with vitamin D deficiency.
- Adrenal pathologies: including hypercortisolism or Cushing’s syndrome, chronic adrenal insufficiency also called Addison’s disease, hyperaldosteronism, adrenal incidentaloma and pheochromocytoma.
- Mistobolism pathologies: type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, dyslipidemia, hyperinsulinism, hypertension.
- Gonadal pathologies: infertility (female and male), hypogonadism, erectile deficits, polycystic ovary syndrome and menstrual cycle disorders.
- Anomalies of sexual differentiation, growth and puberty disorders.
In therapy, endocrine disorders are often treated by replacing the missing hormone or suppressing excessive hormone production. Sometimes, however, the cause of the disorder is treated, e.g. by export if there is a tumor affecting an endocrine gland.