Know the basics

What is endocrine system disorders?

Endocrine disorders are diseases related to the endocrine glands of the body. The endocrine system is a network of glands that produces hormones, which are chemical signals sent out, or secreted, through the bloodstream. Hormones help the body regulate processes, such as appetite, breathing, growth, fluid balance, feminization and virilization, and weight control.

It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of endocrine system disorders?

The symptoms of endocrine disorders can range from mild or even nonexistent to serious and affecting your entire body. Depending on the specific part of the endocrine system affected, some symptoms can be classified to:

Diabetes

The most common endocrine disorder is diabetes mellitus which occurs when the pancreas either does not produce sufficient insulin or the body cannot use the available insulin, including:

  • Excessive thirst or hunger;
  • Fatigue;
  • Frequent urination;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain;
  • Vision changes.

Acromegaly

Acromegaly is a disorder in which the pituitary gland overproduces growth hormone. This leads to overgrowth, especially with the hands and feet, such as:

  • Abnormally large lips, nose or tongue;
  • Abnormally large or swollen hands or feet;
  • Altered facial bone structure;
  • Body and joint aches;
  • Deep voice;
  • Fatigue and weakness;
  • Headaches;
  • Overgrowth of bone and cartilage and thickening of the skin;
  • Sexual dysfunction, including decreased libido;
  • Sleep apnea;
  • Vision impairment.

Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease is characterized by decreased production of cortisol and aldosterone due to adrenal gland damage, including:

  • Depression;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Fatigue;
  • Headache;
  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin;
  • Hypoglycemia;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Low blood pressure;
  • Missed menstrual periods;
  • Nausea, with or without vomiting;
  • Salt cravings;
  • Unexplained weight loss;
  • Weakness (loss of strength).

Cushing’s syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome arises from excess cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands. Symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include:

  • Buffalo hump (fat between the shoulder blades);
  • Skin discoloration such as bruising;
  • Fatigue;
  • Feeling very thirsty;
  • Thinning and weakening of the bones (osteoporosis);
  • Frequent urination;
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia);
  • High blood pressure (hypertension);
  • Irritability and mood changes;
  • Obesity of the upper body;
  • Rounded face;
  • Weakness.

Graves’ disease

Graves’ disease is a type of hyperthyroidism resulting in excessive thyroid hormone production.

  • Bulging eyes;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Difficulty sleeping;
  • Fatigue and weakness;
  • Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland);
  • Heat intolerance;
  • Irregular heart rate;
  • Irritability and mood changes;
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia);
  • Thick or red skin on the shins;
  • Tremors;
  • Unexplained weight loss;

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition in which the thyroid is targeted by the immune system, leading to hypothyroidism and low production of thyroid hormone, such as:

  • Cold intolerance;
  • Constipation;
  • Dry hair and loss of hair;
  • Fatigue;
  • Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland);
  • Joint and muscle pain;
  • Missed menstrual periods;
  • Slowed heart rate;
  • Weight gain.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a condition characterized by an overactive thyroid gland. Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Diarrhea;
  • Difficulty sleeping;
  • Fatigue;
  • Goiter;
  • Heat intolerance;
  • Irritability and mood changes;
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia);
  • Tremors;
  • Unexplained weight loss;
  • Weakness.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid is underactive and produces too little thyroid hormone. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Cold intolerance;
  • Constipation;
  • Decreased sweat production;
  • Dry hair;
  • Fatigue;
  • Goiter;
  • Joint and muscle pain;
  • Missed menstrual periods;
  • Slowed heart rate;
  • Swollen face;
  • Unexplained weight gain.

Prolactinoma

Prolactinoma arises when a dysfunctional pituitary gland makes excess prolactin hormone, which functions in the production of breast milk. Excess prolactin can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Erectile dysfunction;
  • Infertility;
  • Loss of libido;
  • Missed menstrual periods;
  • Unexplained milk production.

Besides, there are some complications of certain endocrine disorders include:

  • Anxiety or insomnia (in many thyroid conditions);
  • Coma (in hypothyroidism);
  • Depression (in many thyroid conditions);
  • Heart disease;
  • Nerve damage;
  • Organ damage or failure;
  • Poor quality of life.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What are the causes of endocrine system disorders?

Endocrine disorders are typically grouped into two categories:

  • A gland produces too much or too little of an endocrine hormone, called a hormone imbalance;
  • The development of lesions (such as nodules or tumors) in the endocrine system, which may or may not affect hormone levels.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for endocrine disorders?

Risk factors for endocrine disorders include:

  • Elevated cholesterol levels;
  • Family history of endocrine disorder;
  • Inactivity;
  • Personal history of autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes;
  • Poor diet;
  • Pregnancy (in cases such as hyperthyroidism);
  • Recent surgery, trauma, infection, or serious injury.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is endocrine system disorders diagnosed?

Blood and urine tests to check your hormone levels can help your doctors determine if you have an endocrine disorder. Imaging tests may be done to help locate or pinpoint a nodule or tumor.

How is endocrine system disorders treated?

When symptoms of endocrine disorders are bothersome, they can generally be treated by correcting the hormone imbalance. This is often done by means of synthetic hormone administration. In cases of prolactinoma, where a noncancerous tumor is responsible for symptoms, surgery or radiation therapy may be used. Often, diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause of the endocrine disorder will resolve the symptoms.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

How can I manage my endocrine system disorders?

You may be able to lower your risk of certain endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism, by:

  • Eating a balanced, healthy diet;
  • Living a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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