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Learning Cool Facts About Endocrine System Functions

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 11/4/2010

The endocrine system is one of the most taken for granted systems. Here you can learn some cool facts about endocrine system functions that may have you considering this system in an entirely new light. Read below to learn some interesting facts about your endocrine system!

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    General Concepts

    There are some very cool facts about the endocrine system that people take for granted. This is a system in our bodies that has more responsibilities than most people think about. Part of the reason for this is that the functions of this system aren't as obvious as the functions of some of the other systems in the body, such as the circulatory system. Since our veins can sometimes be seen and we bleed when cut, some of the functions of the circulatory system are rather easy to see. This is not so with the endocrine system.

    The endocrine system can be thought of as a collection of "managers" in our bodies. While genetic coding determines many things about how we develop, the endocrine system is the system that carries out many of the plans of the genetic coding. For instance, if we are tall, it is the endocrine system that carries out the order to be tall and releases the appropriate chemicals at the appropriate times so that we grow to the designated height that is predetermined by our genetic coding. Let's take a look at some of the glands of the endocrine system.

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    Pituitary Gland

    If the endocrine system is considered a system of managers, the pituitary gland would probably be considered the head manager since it regulates some of the other glands. This gland can be found at the bottom of the brain. One of the functions of the pituitary gland is to control growth. This is the gland that releases the chemicals that make the body grow taller. Instances of when this gland is not functioning properly is found in cases of dwarfism and giant-ism.

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    Thyroid

    Thyroids are probably some of the most talked about glands in the endocrine system. This is because weight is such a popular social concern. Thyroids control how our bodies burn and use food. When there are problems with the thyroid, the individual can have problems such as severe obesity. Problems with the thyroid, which is located below the voice box, may go undetected due to other health concerns that may arise because of obesity.

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    Pancreas

    The pancreas is vital to the body. Though the thyroid controls how our bodies process food, it is the pancreas that produces insulin and regulates things like how the body uses and stores sugar. The pancreas lets us know when there is a problem by developing diabetes. Sometimes there is a problem with the pancreas itself, but sometimes the problem is due to the eating habits of the individual. If the pancreas has too much sugar to work with, it cannot do its job properly. This causes the body to burn sugar too fast or too slow and can lead to other major health concerns. Diabetes can sometimes be controlled with a change in diet. If a change in diet is not working, the individual may need to use medication or procedures such as dialysis.

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    Adrenal

    For people like this writer who enjoy heights and other such thrills, the adrenal gland is a very important factor in our life. This is the gland that secretes adrenaline. Adrenaline is the chemical that prompts the "fight or flight" response. It is responsible for the rapid breathing and increase in heartbeat we experience during times of stress or excitement. It's the heart pounding, exhilarating feeling that comes from skydiving out of an airplane or riding a roller coaster. It's also the gland that is the motivating factor during times of fear or anger. In other words, the adrenal gland is the master of our acute mood changes and shocking events such as a man who picks a car up with his bare hands to save a child.

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    References

    U.S. National Library of Medicine

    National Institutes of Health