Endocrinology is the study of the hormones and glands within the endocrine system and how they help organisms function correctly. From one-celled organisms to many-celled plants and complex animals, hormones are the active communicators that help the organism function correctly according to its species.
How the endocrine system works
The endocrine system is a system of glands distributed throughout the organism. The endocrine system works to control such functions as reproduction, metabolism, growth, how the organism responds to the environment, and making sure the organism receives proper nutritional nourishment for energy.
The endocrine glands secrete hormones that travel through the blood stream to target cells that carry a receptor to receive the communication.
There are two types of communication systems within the human body, which are the nervous system and the endocrine system.
Hormones are the information communicators that carry chemical messages to cells as opposed to the nervous system, which sends messages by way of electrical impulses.
The normal functioning of all glands and hormones within the endocrine system is essential to maintaining a healthy organism. If a gland or hormone begins to malfunction or the amount of hormone released is incorrect an endocrine disease may manifest.
The glands that make up the endocrine system within the human organism are the hypothalamus, pineal gland, pituitary gland, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries and testes.
Each of these endocrine glands releases a specific hormone that is essential for the human body to function normally. More information about these hormones is available here.
Endocrinologists are doctors of medicine or scientists who study the endocrine system. They may be very specialized and work in a very specific field of endocrinology such as the thyroid gland or the pituitary gland.
Fields of endocrinology
Endocrinology consists of many fields of endocrinology such as pediatrics, which studies how hormones work in infants and children; the study of the thyroid and related diseases; diseases brought on by incorrect functioning of hormones; comparative endocrinology, which studies and compares hormone functioning in different species; the study of the pituitary gland and endocrine changes during puberty.
An important environmental field of endocrinology is the study of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which are chemicals found in the home and workplace such as detergents that can cause hormones within humans and other organisms to malfunction.
There are very specific endocrinology fields such as the endocrinology of heart failure whereby hormones not working properly have an effect on the function of the heart. Closely related to this field is the endocrinology of sepsis or the regulation of blood pressure.
In conclusion, endocrinology is a very important field of study since it helps doctors and scientists discover how diseases are brought on by the incorrect functioning of the endocrine glands and the hormones they secrete. Cancer, heart disease, thyroid disease, and many other diseases may be related to glandular and hormonal function.