The glandular system, also known as the endocrine system , is one of the most important in the human body and is also one of the least known. The endocrine system encompasses all the glands of the body, which have the task of regulating the functioning of the entire body. The pituitary, thyroid, and pancreas are some of the glands that make up the glandular system.
The functioning, good or bad, of each of the organs of the endocrine system affects the human body and the psyche of the person, in fact, the personality traits of an individual are marked by the functioning of their glands. To learn more about the glandular system, what are the organs that compose it and its importance for human health, we invite you to continue reading this eHealth article.
What is the endocrine system?
The glandular system is a set of glands whose function is the production and secretion of hormones that are sent to the blood. When these substances are released they cause the inhibition or stimulation of the response of a certain organ. The endocrine system is, along with the nervous system , responsible for regulating the functioning of the rest of the systems and apparatus of the human body.
In addition, the glands act as regulating entities of emotions, which is why their operation directly affects the emotional state of a person. Many of the mental or behavioral changes that a person experiences are due to an alteration in the endocrine system due to the excessive release or decrease in the production of certain hormones. For example, too much or too little thyroid hormones secreted by the thyroid gland can affect body temperature and cause depressive or anxiety states.
Thus, the body’s glands are involved in a myriad of processes such as growth, reproduction, food metabolism, blood pressure, and the body’s response to an alert situation. All this is carried out through the release of hormones produced by the glands, and to better understand the whole process we explain below what these substances are and their functions.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemicals produced by the cells of the glands of the endocrine system. Hormones carry chemical information from one cell to another and are released into the bloodstream to travel through it to the organ where they will perform their function. There are more than 50 types of hormones in the body and each of them can exert a reaction no matter how minimal its concentration is within the body. Likewise, the central nervous system, the action of some hormones and peripheral changes in the fluid are responsible for regulating hormonal secretion.
Sometimes it happens that there are changes in certain patterns of the body that can cause alterations in hormonal secretion over a long period of time. When this happens it can aggravate the mental and physical condition of a person. To better understand this section, let’s take as an example a person who suffers from stress and does not know how to control it. Excessive stress stimulates the body to release adrenaline from the adrenal glands; adrenaline in large amounts stimulates the part of the brain that is associated with behavior and causes states of rage. Likewise, stress stimulates the release of cortisol, a hormone that affects proper metabolic functioning, which is why high levels of cortisol are associated with being overweight.
Therefore we can affirm that any hormonal alteration produced in the human body in a prolonged way can cause physical and emotional havoc on the health of a person. However, poor handling of emotions is also responsible for hormonal alterations. In conclusion, hormones are highly important substances for all body processes to be carried out efficiently and in balance.
Endocrine glands and their functions
The proper functioning of the endocrine glands is essential for a normal secretion of hormones. For this reason, it is important to know what the glands of the human body are and what they are for, let’s see:
It is the butterfly-shaped gland that is located in the neck and is responsible for secreting the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine that influence the maturation of tissues, the burning of calories and the rhythm of the heartbeat. Among the diseases associated with the thyroid gland we find:
- Goiter – The thyroid gland is larger than normal.
- Hyperthyroidism : the gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone.
- Hypothyroidism: the gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
- Thyroid nodules: formation of lumps in the thyroid.
- Thyroiditis – The thyroid is swollen.
- Thyroid cancer.
It is often difficult to diagnose thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, since their symptoms are associated with many conditions or, in some cases, are not sufficiently evident to suspect an alteration in the functioning of the gland.
This gland can be recognized by its pear shape and is located in the area below the brain, known as the sella turcica. The pituitary is considered to be the main hormone, since it is responsible for regulating the functioning of all the endocrine glands of the human being. The pituitary gland is divided into two parts, the posterior pituitary and the anterior pituitary. The back is responsible for secreting oxytocin and antidiuretic hormone. The anterior zone produces the hormones corticotropin, thyrotropin, growth hormone, gonadotropins, and prolactin.
The pathologies associated with the pituitary are not many, in fact the main condition related to this gland is the presence of tumors. The masses lodged in this area can cause compression symptoms such as alterations of the pupils, headaches, vision problems and alterations in the eyelids. Likewise, a tumor in the pituitary gland is capable of producing hormones, which is why a significant alteration of these substances can occur in the body.
It treats four glands that are located in the lobes of the thyroid and are responsible for the secretion of the hormone PTH, better known as parathyroid hormone. The parathyroid has nothing to do with the thyroid, they are totally different glands that perform different functions. Among the most important actions of the parathyroid gland, its power to control the levels of phosphorus and calcium in the blood stands out. Keeping the calcium level in blood and bones in balance is essential to offer the correct electrical energy to the nervous system and the muscular system .
Parathyroid disease occurs when a person has 3 normal-sized parathyroids and one much larger one because it has become a tumor and is making excess PTH hormone. In these cases, the person will need to undergo an operation to remove the tumor.
It is located behind the stomach and its main function is to produce juices that help break down food during digestion and secrete the hormone insulin, a substance responsible for regulating blood glucose levels. The pancreas is a very important gland and its proper functioning is vital so that certain degenerative diseases do not develop in the human body.
Among the conditions associated with a malfunction of the pancreas we find:
- Pancreatitis – inflammation of the gland due to digestive enzymes beginning to digest the pancreas itself.
- Cystic fibrosis: it is a genetic condition characterized by the production of a sticky substance that causes blockage of the pancreatic ducts.
- Type I diabetes : the cells of the gland do not produce insulin due to a negative reaction of the immune system on them.
- Type II diabetes: the pancreas functions poorly and is not able to secrete enough insulin to properly metabolize sugar from meals.
- Pancreatic cancer .
They are two glands in the shape of a triangle and each one is located in the upper part of a kidney. The outer part of these glands is known as the cortex and is the area responsible for producing the hormones cortisol, aldosterone, and other substances that can be converted into testosterone. The inner part of the gland is known as the medulla and is responsible for producing adrenaline (epinephrine) and norepinephrine (norepinephrine).
Among the diseases associated with a malfunction of the adrenal glands we find:
- Addison’s disease, cortisol deficiency.
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
- Cushing’s syndrome, excess cortisol.
- Hirsutism or excess body hair.
- Hump behind the shoulders.
- Conn syndrome.
The gonodes are better known by their names as the sex glands: testes and ovaries. For this reason we will treat them separately.
The testes act in the development of secondary sexual characteristics and are essential for the production of sperm. The testicles are secretors of testosterone, a substance that intervenes in the development of the sex of the fetus, develops the deep voice typical of men, acts in the formation of facial hair, is vital for the development of sexual activity by men, controls libido and contributes to better fat metabolism.
If you want to know more, visit our article on the male reproductive system .
They are two female glands responsible for producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The ovaries are involved in the development of secondary sexual characteristics, control the menstrual cycle, allow the endometrium to develop in the womb, and inhibit the production of milk in the breasts. The cessation of hormonal secretion from the ovaries results in menopause and the end of a woman’s fertile life.
Among the functions of progesterone we find: it prepares the endometrium so that it can offer everything necessary for the fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. It is responsible for the enlargement of the breasts the days before menstruation. Its action in the brain and central nervous system can cause changes in body temperature.
For its part, estrogens are responsible for the following: they thicken the endometrium every month to prepare it for pregnancy. They are responsible for determining the distribution of fat in the female body. They are responsible for the pigmentation of the nipples and the genital area. Its action in the brain controls libido in women.
If you want to know more, visit our article on the female reproductive system .
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.