Diseases and Imbalances
In today’s world of body disease and chronic illness, the Endocrine System is one of the most important systems within the body to understand and maintain for good health and wellness. The United States has one of the most serious national health problems in the world stemming from Endocrine System imbalances caused by poor diets, sugar, stress, and toxic food chains. Thus, diabetes, thyroid issues, cancer, chronic fatigue and vascular issues are becoming common place in the traditional medical arena. Arthritis, allergies, gut issues and liver congestion are expressions of the endocrine system imbalances along with other chronic diseases. In fact diabetes could take over cancer and heart disease within the next ten years as the number one chronic disease in America.
Traditional medicine has taken a very linear approach to endocrine system correction and balance by using tests that are antiquated, and treating most endocrine issues with pharmaceutical drugs for the most part. This addresses the effects instead of the causes as stated above. The thyroid gland is an essential organ that must be corrected or all other aspects of the endocrine system will not repair and remain in a state of imbalance creating confusion, misdiagnosis and continual suffering within the body. (For more information see thyroid in the ailments section.)
The Endocrine System refers to the collection of glands of an organism that secrete hormones directly into the circulatory system to be carried towards distant target organs. The major endocrine glands include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus, gastrointestinal tract and adrenal glands. The endocrine system is in contrast to the exocrine system, which secretes its hormones using ducts.
The endocrine system is an information-signal system like the nervous system, yet its effects and mechanism are classifiably different. The endocrine system’s effects are slow to initiate, and prolonged in their response, lasting from a few hours up to weeks. The nervous system sends information very quickly, and responses are generally short lived. In vertebrates, the hypothalamus is the neural control center for all endocrine systems.
Special features of endocrine glands are, in general, their ductless nature, their vascularity, and commonly the presence of intracellular vacuoles or granules that store their hormones. In contrast, exocrine glands, such as salivary glands, sweat glands, and glands within the gastrointestinal tract, tend to be much less vascular and have ducts or a hollow lumen.
In addition to the specialized endocrine organs mentioned above, many other organs that are part of other body systems, such as bone, kidney, liver, heart and gonads, have secondary endocrine functions. For example the kidney secretes endocrine hormones such as erythropoietin and renin. (Wikipedia)
Hormone imbalances can have a significant impact on the reproductive system, particularly in women.
Causes of Endocrine Diseases
Hormone levels that are too high or too low indicate a problem with the endocrine system. Hormone diseases also occur if your body does not respond to hormones in the appropriate ways. Stress, infection, and changes in the blood’s fluid and electrolyte balance can also influence hormone levels, according to the National Institute of Health.
Diabetes, the most common disease of the endocrine system, can be linked to obesity, diet and family history, according to Dr. Alyson Myers of North Shore-LIJ Health System. “To diagnose diabetes, we do an oral glucose tolerance test with fasting.”
“Tumors — both benign and cancerous — can also disrupt the functions of the endocrine system,” Myers explained. Infections and medications such as blood thinners can also cause adrenal deficiencies.
Hypothyroidism, occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs. Insufficient thyroid hormone can cause many of the body’s functions to slow or shut down completely. Thyroid cancer begins in the thyroid gland and starts when the cells in the thyroid begin to change, grow uncontrollably and eventually form a tumor.
Hypoglycemia, also called low blood glucose or low blood sugar, occurs when blood glucose drops below normal levels. This typically happens as a result of treatment for diabetes when too much insulin is taken. The condition can occur in people not undergoing treatment for diabetes, such an occurrence is fairly rare.
Increased or Decreased Levels of Endocrine Hormone
…may be caused by:
- A problem with the endocrine feedback system
- Failure of a gland to stimulate another gland to release hormones (for example, a problem with the hypothalamus can disrupt hormone production in the pituitary gland)
- A genetic disorder, such as multiple endocrine meoplasia (MEN) or congenital hypothyroidism
- Injury to an endocrine gland
- Tumor of an endocrine gland
- Most endocrine tumors and nodules (lumps) are noncancerous. They usually do not spread to other parts of the body. However, a tumor or nodule on the gland may interfere with the gland’s hormone production.
Types of Endocrine Imbalances
Diabetes is the most common endocrine disorder diagnosed in the U.S.
Other endocrine disorders include:
Adrenal Insufficiency. The adrenal gland releases too little of the hormone cortisol and sometimes, aldosterone. Symptoms include fatigue, stomach upset, dehydration, and skin changes. Addison’s disease is a type of adrenal insufficiency.
Cushing’s Disease. Overproduction of a pituitary gland hormone leads to an overactive adrenal gland. A similar condition called Cushing’s syndrome may occur in people, particularly children, who take high doses of corticosteroid medications.
Gigantism (Acromegaly) and other growth hormone problems. If the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone, a child’s bones and body parts may grow abnormally fast. If growth hormone levels are too low, a child can stop growing in height.
Hyperthyroidism. The thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, leading to weight loss, fast heart rate, sweating, and nervousness. The most common cause for an overactive thyroid is an autoimmune disorder called Grave’s disease.
Hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and depression. The underactive gland can cause slowed development in children. Some types of hypothyroidism are present at birth.
Hypopituitarism. The pituitary gland releases little or no hormones. It may be caused by a number of different diseases. Women with this condition may stop menstruations.
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia I and II (MEN I and MEN II). These rare, genetic conditions are passed down through families. They cause tumors of the parathyroid, adrenal, and thyroid glands, leading to overproduction of hormones.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Overproduction of androgens interfere with the development of eggs and their release from the female ovaries. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility.
Treating Endocrine Disorders