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Endocrine diseases, also referred to as endocrine disorders, are the conditions, in which endocrine system is not working properly. They may be triggered when one or more glands are producing too much or not enough hormones. Those diseases interfere with entire human organism, because hormones are responsible for controlling almost every process inside the human body. Fortunately, endocrine disorders are fairly easy to control with modern medicine, and serious complications are rare. Symptoms are different for each type of the disease, and depend on the involved gland, but there are few common signs amongst them, including fatigue, unintentionally weight changes and sleep disorders.
Endocrine diseases characteristics
Each individual has endocrine system, composed of the 8 main glands, which is responsible for the hormones production. Hormones main task is to adjust processes like growth of the tissues and bones, metabolism, sexual functions, reproduction and more, and they can even influence the mood. Endocrine disorders are modifying the functionality of the glands, resulting in either hormone overproduction (hypersecretion), hormone underproduction (hyposecretion) or tumours. Those kind of conditions are usually not dangerous, followed by rather mild symptoms, and with proper treatment they do not have any life threatening consequences.
There are several diseases affecting endocrine system, and the most common are:
- Addison’s disease
- Cushing’s disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
Endocrine disorders causes and symptoms
The most common cause of the endocrine diseases is inappropriate response to signals, which are coming from the endocrine feedback system. When this feedback system is corrupted, the glands are receiving false information about hormones level, thus they are not able to maintain proper production. Another possible risk factors include genetic background, family history, raised cholesterol level or bad diet.
There are numerous symptoms related to endocrine disorders, and each type of the disease have its own series of signs. They may vary in intensity, ranging from mild to severe, and in some cases, they can be even unnoticeable. Immediate medical intervention is required, when the symptoms are acute or may be life-threatening.
Mild symptoms include:
- Sleep disorders
- Unintentionally weigh changes
- Loss of apetite
Immediate health care is required, when those symptoms appear:
- Shortness of breath
- Severe fatigue
- Extremely low blood pressure
Endocrine diseases diagnosis and treatment
In most cases, the diagnosis is easy to establish. It may be based on appearing symptoms or physical examination, as well as on several tests, like blood test or urinalysis. Biopsy may be done if there are some concerns, but it is uncommon. What is more, X-rays may be done, if there is suspicion about tumour existence.
When the symptoms are very mild or barely noticeable, medication may be unnecessary. Apart from those cases, treatment can be divided into 2 categories, according to the level of hormones. If the level of particular hormone is too low (hyposecretion), it needs to be replenished. However, sometimes organism is hostile towards those replacements, thus anti-resistance drug intake is essential. On the opposite, when the hormone level is to high (hypersecretion), it needs to be suppressed, for instance by surgery, radiation therapy or drugs that will result in decreased hormone production. It needs to be remembered, that adjusting one hormone can result in deregulating another of them, so the course needs to be monitored constantly, until the hormonal economy becomes stable.