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Endocrinology Q&A

Q: What is Endocrinology?

 A: Simply put, endocrinology is the study of the endocrine glands. Endocrine glands are a group of glands in the body which secrete hormones. The purpose of the secreted hormones is to evoke a specific response in other cells of the body which are located far away.

Q: What does the thyroid gland do?

A: The thyroid gland is the biggest gland in the neck. It is situated in the front of the neck below the skin and muscle layers. The thyroid gland takes the shape of a butterfly with the two wings being represented by the left and right thyroid lobes which wrap around the trachea. The sole function of the thyroid is to make thyroid hormone and regulate the body’s metabolism. This hormone has an effect on nearly all tissues of the body in its function to increase cellular activity. The thyroid gland is prone to several very distinct problems, some of which are extremely common. These problems include the production of hormone (too much, or too little), increased growth of the thyroid causing compression or appearing as a mass in the neck, nodules or lumps within the thyroid which are worrisome for the presence of thyroid cancer.

Q: What is the Pituitary gland?

A: The pituitary is a small, pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain. It sends signals to the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries and testes, directing them to produce thyroid hormone, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, and many more important hormones.

        These hormones have dramatic effect on:

            – Metabolism

            – Blood presssure

            – Sexuality

            – Reproduction

            – Thyroid gland function

            – Water balance in the body

 Q: What does the adrenal gland do?

A: The adrenal glands are orange-colored endocrine glands which are located on the top of both kidneys. Each gland consists of a medulla (the center of the gland) which is surrounded by the cortex.

The adrenal gland releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that:

    – Help control blood pressure

    – Help the body deal with stress

    -Affect sexual development and reproduction

    – Help control the breakdown of fats & proteins to make sugars in the liver

Q: What is the Parathyroid gland?

A:  Parathyroid glands are small glands of the endocrine system which are located behind the thyroid. The purpose of the parathyroid glands are to regulate the calcium level in our bodies within a very narrow range so that the nervous and muscular systems can function properly.

Although they are neighbors and both part of the endocrine system, the thyroid and parathyroid glands are otherwise unrelated. The single major disease of parathyroid glands is overactivity of one or more of the parathyroids which make too much parathyroid hormone causing a potentially serious calcium imbalance. This is called hyperparathyroidism.

Q: What is the Endocine system?

A: The foundations of the endocrine system are the hormones and glands. As the body’s chemical messengers, hormones transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another. Although many different hormones circulate throughout the bloodstream, each one affects only the cells that are genetically programmed to receive and respond to its message. Hormone levels can be influenced by factors such as stress, infection, and changes in the balance of fluid and minerals in blood.

Q: What are the major glands that make up the Endocrine system?

A: The major glands that make up the human endocrine system are the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pineal body, and the reproductive glands, which include the ovaries and testes. The pancreas is also part of this hormone-secreting system, even though it is also associated with the digestive system because it also produces and secretes digestive enzymes.