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What is the Endocrine System, Exactly?

What is the Endocrine System, Exactly?
Comments Off on What is the Endocrine System, Exactly?

In this issue of our quarterly bulletin we hope to shed some light on the complex yet important endocrine system, and educate our patient community about the treatment and prevention of diabetes, endocrine and metabolism disorders.

Few people really understand how the endocrine system works and what an important role the endocrine system and hormones play in our lives. Several body systems are connected with the endocrine system, including the thyroid, metabolism, and the reproductive system. The endocrine system is a complex network of glands that includes the thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, Dr. Alireza Falahati-Nini, MD, FACE, Medical Director Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes ovaries, testes, adrenal, pituitary and hypothalamus. These glands produce the hormones that control your reproduction, metabolism, and development—as well as your mood, energy, mental abilities and response to your environment. Thus, conditions affecting the endocrine system often involve a complex set of connections in your body, and can have wide-ranging effects on your health and wellbeing. Treatment of endocrine diseases typically requires a special understanding of the complex nature of the hormones involved in the endocrine system, to “get the balance right.” The endocrine system involves over 100 hormones that maintain and regulate disorders are caused by a heightened or diminished level of particular hormones.

How is an Endocrinologist Different from a Regular Physician?

Because the diagnosis and management of endocrine disorders is multifaceted, a physician will often refer an individual to an endocrinologist, a highly trained specialist whose area of expertise is in understanding the way this group of glands works. Due to the vastness of the endocrine system’s components, endocrinology itself encompasses many areas of specialty. “Hormone imbalance” may not sound like a condition worthy of serious study and treatment, but when you consider all of the activities in your body that are regulated by hormones, you’ll see how much responsibility the endocrine system carries! Hormones play a part in all of these areas of a person’s health:

  • diabetes
  • thyroid diseases
  • metabolic disorders
  • over or under production of hormones
  • menopause
  • osteoporosis
  • hypertension
  • cholesterol (lipid) disorders
  • infertility
  • lack of growth (short stature)
  • cancers of the endocrine glands

The word “hormone” comes from the Greek word hormao, meaning “I  excite or arouse.” This is exactly how  hormones work—their job is to evoke a specific response in other cells of the body which are located far away. A single hormone may affect more than one function, and each function may be controlled by a number of hormones. Nutrition and proper care are essential to maintaining a healthy endocrine system. As endocrinologists, we place a great deal of value on the health and quality of life in our community. As much as 10% of the population will experience some endocrine disorder in their lifetime. Thyroid glands, adrenal glands, nutrition and reproductive health all play a fundamental role in an individual’s wellbeing. A healthy and balanced endocrine system means that you can enjoy the exciting and active lifestyle that Utah affords its residents.