Marla Ahlgrimm: All About the Endocrine System

Marla AhlgrimmYou might be familiar with your respiratory system and your cardiovascular system, but Marla Ahlgrimm says that many people aren’t quite as acquainted with the endocrine system. The author and women’s health expert says this is a shame since the endocrine system is more or less the body’s control panel.

Q: What is the endocrine system?

Marla Ahlgrimm: This is an extensive network of glands that both manufacture and deliver hormones throughout the body. The endocrine system releases hormones that play a role in heart, tissue, and bone development. Its health also determines whether or not you develop certain diseases, including growth disorders, diabetes, and hormone disorders.

Q: How many glands make up the system?

Marla Ahlgrimm: There are more than a dozen glands within the endocrine system. The thyroid, for example, is a gland in the neck with the very important job of keeping your metabolism in check. The lesser-known pineal gland is located deep inside the brain and affects sleep. Specifically for women, the ovaries are another important part of the endocrine system and are essential to human reproduction.

Q: What are some common endocrine disorders?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Diabetes is the most well known. This is when your body is unable to use or produce insulin, a hormone related to blood sugar (glucose) usage. Less common is acromegaly, or gigantism, which causes people to grow exceptionally fast. The thyroid gland can be affected with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism which is where the body produces too much or too little thyroid hormone respectively.

Q: Are endocrine disorders treatable?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Some are. Modern medicine has made it possible to identify and treat common system disorders. Some women with ovarian disorders may find hormone therapy effective while others may need to have tumors or other lesions removed to return the body back to normal. Diabetes and thyroid issues can often be managed with medications.

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