Composed of glands, the endocrine system is responsible for hormone production and many other vital body functions. Regulating multiple life processes in an efficiently coordinated manner is conducted by the endocrine glands. The endocrine system secretes glands, or chemical messengers, in order to move information throughout the body. The glands then secrete hormones into the bloodstream, which is then used for travel from one part of the body to another.
The endocrine system’s ability to function is similar to the nervous system. However, the nervous system sends electrical messages to control body organ coordination, while the endocrine systems utilizes chemicals, also referred to as hormones, to provide communication between differing body parts. The endocrine system synthesizes and secretes these messenger chemicals, or hormones. They fill an important part in the human body immediately from conception to growth and development, on through reproduction. “Endocrine” is a term that is used to explain the release of hormones into the bloodstream when certain stimuli are received by the body.
Endocrine System Glands Six major glands form the endocrine system. They are home to the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal , pineal gland, reproductive gland (commonly referred to as gonads or the testes and ovaries, and the hypothalamus. Found in the inferior central portion of the brain, the hypothalamus regulates body temperature and metabolism.
• Hypothalamus – The hypothalamus is the primary connector between the endocrine system and the nervous system. Hormones secreted from the hypothalamus are responsible for regulating the pituitary gland’s hormone secretions.
• Pituitary Gland – Approximately pea sized, the pituitary gland can be found at the base of the brain directly beneath the hypothalamus. Hormones secreted from the pituitary gland are responsible for controlling various other endocrine glands. As a result, most people believe that this is the endocrine system’s most important gland.
• Thyroid gland – Positioned on the lower neck’s front part, the thyroid gland is an organ that resembles the shape of a butterfly. Thyroxine and triiodothyronine are hormones secreted from this gland. The thyroid gland is in control of regulating the body’s metabolism. In children, it also assists in the development of the nervous system and the brain, bone growth, and brain development. Four small glands joined to the thyroid gland are referred to as parathyroids. Their primary function is maintaining a constant level of calcium through the blood.
• Adrenal glands – Found along the top of both kidneys, there are two adrenal glands in total. Shaped like a triangle, the gland consists of two parts. The adrenal medulla is located on the inner part and the adrenal cortex is the outer part. It is known for the secretion of hormones that increase heart rate and blood pressure to support the body’s ability to handle stress. The balance of salt and water is also controlled in this gland.
• Pancreas – This is the organ that is important in hormonal and digestive functions. Glucagon and insulin are hormones that are both produced here because it is a double gland. If the amount of insulin produced is not adequate, diabetes will develop because of the power it maintains over the body’s blood sugar levels.
• Reproductive glands – Their primary responsibility is producing sex hormones. Male reproductive glands are called testes and secrete a type of hormones known as androgens that include testosterone and are located in the scrotum. Ovaries are the name given to female reproductive organs responsible for the production of two hormones, progesterone and estrogen.
• Pineal gland – This gland is found directly in the middle of the brain. It is responsible for the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls the sleep and wake cycle in the body.