The endocrine system is a complex system made up of glands that make hormones. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers and play the key role in carrying instructions and information from cell to cell. This system influences almost every cell, organ and function the body has and helps the body function properly.
What Does the Endocrine System Do?
The endocrine glands release hormones into the bloodstream, allowing the hormones to travel to cells all over the body. These hormones help control growth, development, mood, metabolism, reproduction and organ functions. It is important to make sure the endocrine system is working properly because too little or too much of any hormone can cause complications.
What Makes up the Endocrine System?
The eight major glands that make up the endocrine system are spread all throughout the body. These gland include the:
Hypothalamus: Located in the lower central part of the brain, this region links to the endocrine and nervous systems.
Pituitary: This gland is located at the base of the brain. Though it is just the size of a pea, it is called the master gland. It produces hormones that regulate the functions of other endocrine system glands.
Thyroid: Located in the front part of the lower neck, this gland controls the rate at which cells burn fuel for the body. It helps kids and teens grow and develop.
Parathyroids: Made up of four tiny glands attached to the thyroid, it controls the level of calcium in the blood.
Adrenals: These two triangular glands on top of each kidney and help control salt and water balance in the body. It also increases ones blood pressure and heart rate when the body is under stress.
Pineal Body: Located in the middle of the brain, this tissue secretes melatonin, which helps regulate sleep.
Reproduction Glands: These glands secrete testosterone or estrogen and progesterone.
- Pancreas: Located at the back of the abdomen behind the stomach, it controls level of sugars in the body and stored energy.
How Can I Keep the Endocrine System Healthy?
To help keep your child’s system healthy, it is important for them to get a lot of exercise, eat a healthy and nutritious diet and get regular check-ups. At your child’s check-ups, let your doctor know of any family history of endocrine abnormalities such as thyroid problems or diabetes.
When Should My Child See a Doctor?
It may be time to see a doctor if your child:
- Has to pee often.
- Drinks plenty of water, but is still thirsty.
- Has frequent belly pain or nausea often.
- Is frequently constipated.
- Is losing or gaining a lot of weight.
- Is very tired or weak.
- Suffers from tremors or sweats a lot.
- Is not growing or developing correctly.