The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce and release hormones. These hormones are in charge of several functions in the body, from heartbeat to tissue growth to the creation of new life. Even a small issue with one or more of these glands can interrupt the careful balance that the body strikes with these hormones. This causes an endocrine disorder or dysfunction. One of the most common endocrine disorders is diabetes. Many other endocrine disorders include adrenal insufficiency, gigantism and other growth hormone problems, hypothyroidism, and polycystic ovarian disease.
Causes of Endocrine Disorders: The endocrine system consists of several glands, including the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in the brain, adrenal glands in the kidneys, and thyroid in the neck, as well as the pancreas, ovaries, and testes. The stomach, liver, and intestines also secrete hormones related to digestion. Most common endocrine disorders are related to the improper functioning of the pancreas and the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands. The causes of endocrine disorders are grouped into two categories – Disorders caused by a gland producing too much or too little of a hormone, which is known as hormone imbalance and disorders due to the development of lesions in the endocrine system that can affect hormone levels.
Testing for Endocrine Disorders: An endocrinologist is specially trained in problems related to the endocrine system. Normally, blood and urine tests are conducted to check the hormone levels to determine if you have an endocrine disorder. Imaging tests may be done further to locate or pinpoint a nodule or a tumor.
Diabetes – Most common endocrine disorder: Diabetes is a chronic, lifelong disease that affects the body’s ability to process insulin. Normally when you eat, the pancreas, an organ located in the upper abdomen, produces the hormone insulin to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells where it can be used for energy and growth. With diabetes, either the pancreas produces too little or no insulin or the body’s cells don’t respond to the insulin. Diabetes deprives the body’s cells of nutrition and leads to an abnormally high level of glucose in the blood. Over time, this can result in damage to the blood vessels and organs and premature death. The three most common forms of diabetes are type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
Symptoms of Diabetes: Symptoms of diabetes that can indicate a dangerous, potentially life-threatening change in your blood sugar level can occur suddenly and rapidly. Symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, vomiting, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, confusion, sweating, feeling shaky, extreme irritability, or aggressive behavior. In case you have diabetes and experience symptoms of high or low blood sugar, test your blood sugar and follow your treatment plan based on the test results.
Treatment of Diabetes: Treatment for diabetes varies among cases but a good diet plan and regular exercise are extremely valuable for both management and prevention of this endocrine disorder. Some other treatments include regular blood sugar monitoring, insulin treatment, oral or intramuscular administration of medications, pancreatic transplant in the case of type 1 diabetes and bariatric surgery for people who are very overweight.