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The Endocrine System: An Overview

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Introduction to Endocrine System Function

The endocrine system functions with a series of glands and hormones that affects every other system in the body. The endocrine system regulates such things as body growth, metabolism, and sexual development and function -- in general, systems or processes of the body that happen over a long period time. The nervous system manages functions like breathing and body movement.

Endocrine System Hormones and Glands

Hormones are chemical messengers that the body creates to transfer information from one set of cells to another in an effort to coordinate the function of different parts of the body. Although there are many kinds of hormones coursing through your bloodstream at any given time, each type of hormone “targets” a specific set of cells, so only those cells with the right hormone receptors will receive or accept the hormone.

Glands (eg: thyroid, pituitary, adrenal glands) select and remove “materials from the blood, processes them, and secretes the finished chemical product for use somewhere in the body” (Kidshealth.org).

The hypothalamus, which is located in the lower central part of the brain controls feeling of fullness and satisfaction when we eat, the rate at which our body uses food to function (metabolism), body temperature, and body growth.

The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, is about the size of a pea and is responsible for stimulating growth of bone and tissue, thyroid, corticosteroid production, sexual function and production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, milk production and labor in females, and when you need to urinate.

The thyroid is located in the lower front part of the neck and is responsible for regulating your body’s metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tone, reproductive functions, bone growth and brain and nervous system development in children.

Parathyroid glands are actually “two pairs of small glands embedded in the surface of the thyroid gland, one pair on each side” (emedicinehealth.com) and regulates calcium levels in the blood and bones.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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