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    What is Endocrinology?

    The endocrine system is a complex group of glands. Glands are organs that make hormones. These are substances that help to control activities in your body. Different types of hormones control reproduction, metabolism (food burning and waste elimination), and growth and development. Hormones also control the way you respond to your surroundings, and they help to provide the proper amount of energy and nutrition your body needs to function.

    If your hormone levels are too high or too low, you may have a hormone disorder. Hormone diseases also occur if your body does not respond to hormones the way it is supposed to. Stress, infection and changes in your blood's fluid and electrolyte balance can also influence hormone levels.

    In the U.S., the most common endocrine disease is diabetes. There are many others. They are usually treated by controlling how much hormone your body makes. Hormone supplements can help if the problem is too little of a hormone.

    The major endocrine glands are:


    The hypothalamus is a portion of the brain that regulates sleep cycles, body temperature, pituitary gland activity, and other autonomic nervous system functions. Nerve cells in the hypothalamus control the pituitary gland by producing chemicals that either stimulate or suppress hormone secretions from the pituitary.
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    Pituitary Gland

    The pituitary gland is a bean-sized gland found at the base of the skull that controls hormone functions such as temperature, thyroid activity, childhood growth, urine production, testosterone production in males and ovulation and estrogen production in females.
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    Thyroid Gland

    The thyroid glandBack to top

    Parathyroid Gland

    The body has four parathyroid glands that are located just behind the thyroid gland (which is the center of the neck at the front). They have nothing to do with the function of the thyroid. These glands act as a type of thermostat or regulator that controls the blood level of calcium.
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    The pancreas is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, and a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that assist the absorption of nutrients and the digestion in the small intestine.
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    Adrenal Glands

    The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys. They are responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress. The adrenal glands affect kidney function through the secretion of a hormone called aldosterone.
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    Gonad Glands

    The gonads refer to both the two male testicles and the two female ovaries. There are four hormones secreted by the gonads: the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone; and the male hormones, testosterone and androsterone.
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    Pineal Gland

    The pineal gland is a small gland located in the brain that produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions.
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