The human endocrine system comprises different glands all of which are in charge of production of specific hormones. These hormones are released into the blood and eventually reach target tissues where they bond with specific receptors and initiate specific processes. The endocrine system is a very complex net of organs many of which influence function of each other. There are several endocrine glands in the human body, the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, gonads and the pancreas,which is actually a bifunctional gland with both endocrine and exocrine function.Endocrine System Damage
Damage to the endocrine system occurs due to a variety of factors. In the majority of cases there is only one gland affected although it may be that several glands stop working properly at the same time.
Most endocrine problems occur together with the process of aging. Furthermore, endocrine glands may be affected by different illnesses. In humans endocrine disorders and damage to the endocrine system in general is often associated with stress. Finally, external factors and genetics are two more reasons why the endocrine system may be malfunctioning.
The Endocrine System and Aging
The very process of aging is closely connected with distinctive changes in almost every endocrine gland. The production of hormones is reduced, there are changes in hormone metabolism and the level of hormones in the blood. Also, target cells and tissues may be less responsive to the specific hormone. And, in women, certain rhythm such as the menstrual cycle significantly changes when they reach menopause.The Endocrine System and Illnesses
Many acute and chronic illnesses affect the function of endocrine glands and interfere in processes throughout the body. Endocrine pathologies, therefore, can result from congenital or birth defects, surgeries, traumatic injuries, cancers and benign tumors, infections and autoimmune diseases.
The Endocrine System and Stress
Stress is a major contributor to many imbalances in the body, hence it is blamed for malfunction of the endocrine system as well. Increased levels of stress may be blamed for the onset of certain endocrine disorders. The very source of stress is different so in order to prevent endocrine problems, people are due to cope with stress as much as possible and find proper ways of overcoming stressful situations.The Endocrine System and External Factors
Experts believe that there are substances they refer to as environmental endocrine disruptors (EED) which are able to interfere in normal function of the endocrine system. Some of these substances mimic natural hormones and bind to target cells receptors. They may change the outcome of many processes in the body and are, therefore, considered detrimental.
Some detrimental effects EED can cause include disrupted sexual development, decreased fertility, birth defects, reduced immune response and certain neurological and behavioral changes.The Endocrine System and Genetics
Sometimes malfunction of certain parts of the endocrine system develop as a consequence of genetic mutations or faulty genes inherited from parents. Any damage to genetic material may cause plenty of structural and functional changes in the body, and most of these affect the endocrine system in general or only the function of certain endocrine glands.