The Endocrine System is a group of small organs called glands that release hormones. These hormones regulate growth, metabolic activities, kidney function, mood and digestive functions. The endocrine system consists of the pituitary gland, the pineal gland, the thyroid gland, the thymus, the adrenal glands, the ovaries, the testes and the pancreas. Disorders result when these glands malfunction due to disease, tumor or genetic abnormality.
Gigantism is an endocrine disorder caused by abnormal amounts of growth hormone secreted before the growth plates have fused. Causes of this abnormal secretion include a benign tumor on the pituitary gland, McCune-Albright syndrome, Neurofibromatosis, Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 and Carney complex. Symptoms include excessive height for age, delayed puberty, poor peripheral vision, double vision, headaches, irregular menstruation, large hands and feet with thick fingers and toes, breast milk releases, weakness and thickening of facial features. Diagnosis includes MRI to scan for a tumor and blood tests. Treatment includes removal of the tumor or medicine regiments including somatostatin analogs, dopamine agonists and radiation therapy.
Proportionate Dwarfism is an endocrine disorder caused when the pituitary gland does not secrete sufficient amounts of growth hormone during childhood. Symptoms of Proportionate Dwarfism include proportionately small head, limb size and trunk. Diagnosis of this condition includes hormone tests, family history and measurements of height, weight and head circumference. Treatment includes daily injections of growth hormone until familial height is achieved and until appropriate fat and muscle proportions are achieved. Girls are given estrogen to ensure adult sexual development.
Diabetes is an endocrine disorder divided into two types, Sugar Diabetes and Water Diabetes. Sugar Diabetes (Diabetes Type 1) is a lack of insulin producing cells in the pancreas to process the sugars in food to starch, causing frequent urination, thirst, sugar in urine and low energy levels. Water Diabetes (Diabetes Type 2) occurs when the pituitary gland does not secrete enough vasopressin, also called ADH (antidiuretic hormone), which helps the kidneys absorb water. Symptoms include low blood sugar, frequent urination and thirst. Treatment of Sugar Diabetes includes insulin injections and diet control. Water Diabetes is treated with hormone injections/nasal spray/medication, limiting water intake or reducing the amount of salt and diuretics consumed, depending on what is causing the Diabetes.
Hyperthyroidism is an endocrine disorder occurring when the thyroid gland produces too much T4 and T3 hormones, causing the patient to feel hot, to lose weight despite food intake, fatigue at the end of the day without being able to sleep, trembling hands, increased bowel movements, staring gaze, hair loss, light/absent menstruation periods and irritability. Treatments include anti-thyroid medication like methimazole and propylthiouracil, beta-blockers, radioactive iodine treatment and partial surgical removal of the thyroid.
Pheochromocytomas is an endocrine disorder that occurs when a tumor grows on the adrenal glands, causing excess production of adrenaline. Symptoms include headaches, excessive sweating, nervous shaking, heat intolerance, racing heart, anxiety/nervousness and weight loss. Treatment of Pheochromocytomas is the surgical removal of the tumor.
Disorders of the Endocrine System
University of Maryland Medical Center: Gigantism
Mayoclinic.com – Dwarfism (Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Test and Diagnosis, Treatments)
Diabetes Insipidus.org – Diabetes Insipidus (What is, Symptoms, Diagnostic Tests)
HealthGuidance.org – Diabetes Mellitus
Endocrineweb.com: Hypothyroidism (Overview, Treatments)
Pheochromocytoma: A Tumor of the Central Adrenal