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Endocrine System Diseases
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The endocrine system is composed of a network of organs and glands responsible for producing, storing, and secreting hormones that help to maintain and control vital functions such as growth, reproduction, and energy levels. There are several endocrine system diseases that result from disruptions in this complex system:
This is an incomplete list; there are many more endocrine system diseases. Visit our endocrine system diseases and conditions page to access more detailed information about these and other disorders, their symptoms, and their treatments.
In addition to the endocrine system diseases listed above, there are a number of hormone disorders that are far more rare. Cushing's syndrome and Addison's disease are two of these less common diseases.
Cushing's syndrome, less common than the endocrine system diseases discussed above, occurs as the result of too much cortisol in the blood for an extended period of time. Cortisol is a hormone that, in normal amounts, helps the body perform a number of important functions including converting fat into energy, maintaining immune system function, and responding to stress.
The two types of Cushing's syndrome, exogenous (from an outside source) and endogenous (from a source within the body), share a common list of symptoms but different causes. Exogenous Cushing's syndrome occurs in patients taking cortisol-like medications, and is temporary, ceasing when the patient has finished the course of medication. The endogenous form of this endocrine system disease is far rarer, and results from a tumor or tumors either on the adrenal glands or the pituitary gland.
Cushing's syndrome symptoms include the following:
Addison's disease, also among the rare endocrine system diseases, occurs in fewer than 150 people in a million. Also referred to as primary adrenal insufficiency, Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands, which are located at the top of each kidney, produce an insufficient amount of steroid hormones despite the presence of an adequate amount of ACTH, the hormone that triggers the adrenal glands to release steroids.
The steroid hormones produced by the adrenal glands, and deficient during Addison's disease, hold many important functions including the regulation of blood sugar levels, helping the body fight infection and stress, and maintaining normal sexual drive. Addison's disease symptoms include the following:
For a comprehensive description of Addison's disease, including a complete and detailed list of symptoms, please visit our resource page for rare conditions.
Annaswamy Raji, MD, M.M.Sc
More Information About Endocrine System Diseases
There are a great many other endocrine system diseases not mentioned here that can affect people throughout all stages of life. Indeed, besides the more common conditions, which include diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome, there are more than 6,000 rare or "orphan" diseases. The Hormone Health Network is dedicated to providing information about both common and emerging endocrine system diseases to patients suffering from endocrine disorders as well as the general public.
To learn more about the more common disorders please visit our endocrine system diseases resource page; to access information about Addison's disease, Cushing's syndrome, and other rare diseases visit our page of resources for rare conditions.
Additional Information About the Endocrine System: