Why the Endocrine System is Important to the Body
The endocrine system consists of a collection of bag-like structures called glands. These glands are located at specific places inside our bodies and release chemical substances called hormones. These hormones travel inside our bodies and act like chemical messengers.
The major glands that make up the human endocrine system are pituitary, thyroid, adrenals, pancreas, ovaries, and testes. The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, is called the master gland of the endocrine system because its hormones control the activities of many of the other endocrine glands. The adrenal gland is called the gland of emergency because it helps the body respond to emergency situations. Epinephrine or adrenaline, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland, is known as the fight or flight hormone because it prepares the body to act when we are in a stressful or potentially dangerous situation. It is because of this hormone that the body experiences emotional states like anger and excitement. The changes brought about by adrenaline are widespread, very rapid, and last a very short time. Some of the changes brought about by adrenaline are listed below.
- It increases the heartbeat.
- It increases the blood sugar level.
- It results in an overall increase in the body’s energy level.
A diagrammatic representation of the human endocrine system is shown in Figure.
Role of some of the key hormones is given in Table.
Table Hormones and their role in the body
|Hormone||Role in the body|
|Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)||TSH stimulates the growth and functions of the thyroid gland.|
|Growth hormone (GH)||GH stimulates the growth and development of the body.|
|Insulin||It regulates the blood sugar level. Inability of the body to produce insulin in sufficient quantity may result in a disease called diabetes.|
|Thyroxine||It regulates body temperature and plays an important role in growth and development. Inability of the body to produce this hormone may result in a disease called goitre, which causes swelling of the neck.|
|Adrenaline||It helps in the defence of the body in emergency situations.|
|Oestrogen||It controls the development of secondary sexual characteristics, like development of breasts, in females.|
|Testosterone||It controls the development of secondary sexual characteristics, like facial hair, in males.|
Hormones play an important role in the growth and development of the body, especially during a period known as adolescence.