This article is aimed at creating an awareness about the endocrine disorders, by knowing about the functions of the endocrine system, symptoms of the disorder, causes, and treatment.
Endocrine system is composed of hormones, which are made up by glands present all over the body. Hormones can be defined as chemical messengers traversing to various tissues through the bloodstream. One of the most interesting facts is that these glands are ductless. Hence, the hormones released are directly mixed with blood and circulated in the body through the bloodstream. They influence various functions, such as blood circulation, digestion, growth, reproduction, etc. Abnormality in any of these hormone levels, like too high or too low hormone level, leads to disorders such as thyroid problems. Some of the vital disorders of the endocrine system are given below.
- Causes: It can be defined as a metabolic disorder caused due to the pituitary gland tumor, which results in overproduction of human growth hormone and gradual enlargement of the body tissues.
- Symptoms: Muscle fatigue, enlargement in sebaceous glands or glands of the skin, tongue and jaw, facial bones, hands and feet, blurred vision, sleep apnea, joint pain, and headache are the most common symptoms. Severe symptoms include respiratory problems, goiter, hypertension, arthritis, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular diseases. The tests such as pituitary MRI, spinal X-ray, and echocardiogram detect acromegaly.
- Treatment: Treatment includes surgery for removal of the pituitary gland tumor. In case of people who do not respond to surgery, radiation therapy is recommended.
- Causes: Addison’s disease, also called hypocortisolism, is caused due to inadequate amount of hormones, which help in controlling blood pressure. These hormones are produced by adrenal glands.
- Symptoms: Symptoms include sudden weight loss, low blood pressure, and patches on the skin.
- Treatment: Treatment includes lifelong administration of hormone pills.
- Causes: Disorders could be associated with any of the 8 glands, which constitute the endocrine system. The adrenal glands produce a hormone called cortisol. Continual exposure of body to excess cortisol leads to Cushing’s syndrome. A person suffering from inflammatory disorders gets exposed to synthetic hormone medication. This can trigger Cushing’s syndrome. A tumor can also cause the body to produce excess cortisol.
- Symptoms: Symptoms include high blood sugar level along with high blood pressure, weariness, obesity in the upper part of body, and slenderness in legs and arms. In women, irregularity in menstruation is seen.
- Treatment: The treatment for Cushing’s syndrome is cause based. If it is caused due to tumor, treatment involves surgery. If it is caused due to exposure to synthetic hormone medication or steroids administered for treating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment would include lowering of the synthetic hormone dosage to alleviate the symptoms.
- Causes: Diabetes is the most common disorder which causes blood sugar or glucose level to go too high. Insulin is the hormone that aids the mixing of glucose with body cells, for providing them with energy. Increased glucose content in blood for a prolonged time can cause severe consequences such as damage to the kidney, eyes, heart diseases, and in grave situations, can result in amputation of the limbs. When the body produces more insulin to lower blood sugar level, diabetic patients experience increase in appetite. Weight loss, which is caused due to incapability to utilize glucose, is one of the most important warning signs of diabetes. It is observed in 2 types, namely, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In the former, the pancreas fail to produce enough of insulin. Type 2 diabetes can be defined as a condition in which glucose metabolism gets affected, because the body gets resistant to the effects of insulin.
- Symptoms: Signs of diabetes type 2 include weight loss along with weariness and frequent urination. Blood test is the best way to spot diabetes.
- Treatment: Treatment includes weight monitoring and a proper meal plan, which restricts glucose level build up and diabetes pills.
- Causes: Goiter is defined as an enlarged thyroid. The inability of the thyroid gland to produce sufficient quantity of thyroid hormone results in its enlargement. Goiter can also be considered as one of the forms of hyperthyroidism. Its 2 types are sporadic goiter and endemic goiter. The latter is developed due to lack of sufficient iodine content in the body, while the former may be caused due to medications such as lithium.
- Symptoms: Symptoms include difficulty in swallowing and breathing (due to large goiter), hoarseness in voice, neck stiffness, cough, and swelling in the neck. Tests that detect goiter include T4, TSH, and ultrasound of thyroid.
- Treatment: Treatment includes radioactive iodine to compress the thyroid gland, thyrodectomy to remove the gland, and if iodine deficiency is the cause, then lugol’s iodine dosage is prescribed.
- Causes: Graves’ disease is defined as an autoimmune condition, which ultimately leads to overactive thyroid gland. Graves’ disease causes inability of body cells to distinguish between foreign bodies and body cells, resulting in autoimmune disease symptoms and hyperthyroidism symptoms.
- Symptoms: Some of symptoms include weariness, high blood pressure, irritation in the eyes, weight loss, restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, heart intolerance, and anxiety. The tests to detect this disease include blood test to measure T4, T3, and TSH level, or high thyroid level and radioactive iodine test.
- Treatment: The treatment includes surgery and antithyroid medication.
- Causes: Hyperglycemia is defined as excessively high blood sugar content. The hormone called insulin controls glucose in the body. When the glucose level in the blood is continuously above 180mg/dL, then the condition is called hyperglycemia. There are several causes for high blood sugar levels.
- Symptoms: Large amounts of urination along with dehydration, sudden weight loss, weariness, and sometimes blurred vision are the symptoms of high blood sugar. Acute hyperglycemia symptoms can be observed if the blood sugar level excessively increases and goes to the range of 270 -360 mg/dl. They include difficulty in breathing, increase in itchy sensation and anhydrous skin, dark yellowish urine, and a state of confusion.
- Treatment: Hyperglycemia treatment includes blood test for measuring glucose level. Once hyperglycemia is detected, treatment includes following a diabetic diet and starts with monitoring blood sugar level daily, following a fiber-enriched diet, legumes and peas enriched with vegetable proteins, fresh vegetables, and apples. Animal protein consumption is recommended through fish or turkey. Aerobic exercises for 15 minutes are suggested as well.
- Causes: After taking a meal, glucose is absorbed by blood for energy. If you consume excess sugar, it is stored by liver. In the wake of blood sugar falling low, glucose is released by liver. Hypoglycemia can be a side effect of diabetic medication. The causes of low blood sugar levels include dysfunctional kidney and liver, hormonal imbalance, or cancerous growth in body.
- Symptoms: Symptoms of hypoglycemia include giddiness, weakness, and feeling hungry. In case of low blood sugar levels, which is little below 70 mg/dL, symptoms such as shaking, nervousness, nausea are observed. In case of acute hypoglycemia, i.e. below 40 mg/dL, seizures along with decreased body temperature are seen, and it may lead to coma.
- Treatment: The treatment includes tablets and a prescribed diet, which contains approximately 15 grams of carbohyadrates. For instance, 1 tablespoon honey or sugar in water, approximately 4 ounces of fresh fruit juice, and about 3 glucose tablets. A person with severe hypoglycemia is administered glucagon or glucose injections. Fiber and carbohydrates-enriched meals work best for hypoglycemia.
- Causes: Hyperthyroidism is defined as overactive or hyperactive thyroid in which the thyroid gland creates excess thyroid. Thyroid gland produces T3 (thyroxine) and T4 (triiodothyronine), which regulate the energy usage by every cell in body. The causes of hyperthyroidism include consumption of excess quantity of thyroid hormone, excess iodine intake, most commonly, graves disease, and swelling or thyroiditis of thyroid caused due to viral infection.
- Symptoms: The most common hyperactive thyroid symptoms include weariness, increased sweating and appetite, osteoporosis, nervousness, goiter, and difficulty in concentrating. Tests for detecting hyperthyroidism include blood test to measure thyroid level and TSH, T3, and T4 level measurement. Triglycerides, glucose test, and cholesterol tests get affected due to hyperthyroidism.
- Treatment: Thyroid problems can be treated with antithyroid medication, surgery, and radioactive iodine for stopping excess hormone production.
- Causes: Hypothyroidism can be defined as under active thyroid or disorder in which thyroid gland does not make sufficient thyroid hormone. The most frequently observed cause of hypothyroidism is inflammation of thyroid gland, which ruptures gland cells. Thyroid gland is located below larynx, in front of thr neck, for instance, in case of hashimoto’s thyroiditis where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Other causes include radioactive iodine used to treat hyperthyroidism, radiation treatment undergone for cancer, previous history of thyroid surgery, and viral thyroiditis.
- Symptoms: Symptoms of hypothyroidism include increased sensitivity to cold, depression, weariness, increase in menstruation (in case of women), and joint pain. If left untreated, severe symptoms include puffy face and hands and feet, hoarseness, and thickened skin. TSH test and T4 tests are done to detect hypothyroidism.
- Treatment: Hypothyroidism treatment includes medication such as levothyroxine and replacement therapy and checking hormone level every 2-3 months. Hypothyroidism diet includes tyrosine, protein, and iodine-enriched foods, such as seaweed and wheat, meat, pulses, and sea water fish.
- Causes: Precocious puberty is one of the most common disorders in children. Puberty is defined as muscle growth and changes that occur in body shape during the growth of a child into an adult. For boys, puberty starts between the age of 9 – 14 years and for girls, it begins between the age of 8 – 12 years. Sometimes, abnormal hormone levels trigger precocious puberty.
- Symptoms: Some of the most common symptoms in boys before 9 years of age and in girls before 8 years of age include acne, underarm hair, abnormal body growth, and body stench. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GNRH) is created by hypothalamus, which is a part of the brain. GNRH triggers the pituitary gland to discharge 2 more hormones called follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, resulting in this disorder. A pediatric endocrinologist, a specialist of hormone related ailments in children, will first conduct a physical test followed by blood test and X-ray of wrist and hand to spot precocious puberty.
- Treatment: Treatment includes analog therapy. This consists of administering an injection called leuprolide, which is given on a monthly basis, till the usual puberty age. This injection stops abnormal development in early age.
These were the various endocrine disorders and their symptoms, causes, and treatment. Initiating the treatment on time is the key to keep away from these conditions.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.