The endocrine system is made up of a series of glands and tissues responsible for producing hormones, which are the substances that activate and regulate all the metabolic processes within the body.

When there is a disease in an endocrine organ, there will be an excess or lack of hormones, causing the hormone target organ to perform its functions incorrectly, with consequences such as obesity or diabetes. There are also diseases related to ageing that are connected to hormone alterations, such as osteoporosis or sarcopenia.

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A series of glands that secrete hormones are located in different parts of the body. These hormones flow directly into the cardiovascular system, which takes them to their target organs.

A specific hormone can target several organs simultaneously and, then again, an organ can be affected by different hormones.

When a specific hormone reaches its target organ, a reaction is triggered. The reactions hormones produce affect aspects as diverse as reproduction, mood or growth.

Endocrine Glands

Adrenal glands

They are two glands that are located above the kidneys. The hormones that they produce (adrenaline, cortisol and aldosterone) target the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins.

Their functions are:

    • To control blood pressure.
    • To control the concentration of body fluids.
    • To control renal function.


Located in the encephalon, within the brain, the hypothalamus produces hormones that affect the brain and the nervous system.

Its functions are:

    • To regulate thirst.

    • To regulate hunger.

    • To regulate sexual appetite.

    • To control blood pressure.

    • To regulate body temperature.

    • To regulate muscle tension.

    • Other.


Located in the encephalon, within the brain, the hypothalamus produces hormones that affect the brain and the nervous system.

Its functions are:

    • To regulate the storage and consumption of amino acids, triglycerides, glucose and other nutrients.
    • To regulate digestion through digestive enzymes, which divide food molecules into smaller components.
    • To control blood sugar.

Pituitary gland

The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and produces hormones that, in turn, control the production of other glands, such as thyrotropin (which stimulates the thyroid) or adrenocorticotropic hormone (which stimulates the adrenal glands). It also secretes other hormones such as the growth hormone (GH).

Its functions are:

    • To regulate growth through the growth hormone (GH).

    • To regulate the production of eggs and sperm through the luteinising hormone (LH).

    • To control the production of thyroid hormones through the thyrotropin hormone.

    • Other.


As well as producing the female and male reproductive cells (eggs and spermatozoa), the ovaries and testicles also produce the so-called female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) and male hormones or androgens.

Their functions are:

    • To control the development during puberty of female sexual characteristics and, subsequently, the lining of the uterus during menstruation through the production of oestrogens.

    • To favour the zygote (fertilised egg) adhering to the uterus, as well as its subsequent development, through progesterone.

    • To control the development during puberty of the male sexual characteristics and, subsequently, stimulate sperm maturation, through testosterone.

    • To promote the development of tissues, especially muscle tissue, through androgens.


This lymphoid gland, which is fundamental for the immune system, is located between the sternum and the heart. Studies have proven that when we experience positive moods (joy, pleasure, etc.) the thymus enlarges itself, whereas when we experience negative moods (sadness, stress, etc.) it shrinks. This fact would indicate that a positive attitude will influence a more effective immune system.

Its functions are:

    • To promote the development of specific immune system cells called T cells.

Thyroid gland

The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is located in the neck. The hormones it secretes regulate many bodily functions, among which the metabolism is noteworthy.

Its functions are specified in the special section dedicated to the thyroid.

Parathyroid gland

It consists of four glands located behind the thyroid gland that secrete the parathyroid hormone.

Their functions are:

    • To regulate phosphorus and calcium levels within the body.

endocrinologiaendocrinologiaOBESITY AND OVERWEIGHT


Obesity is a chronic disease with a significant hereditary component and dietary and lifestyle habits.

An obese person is prone to suffering countless cardiovascular and articular pathologies, etc.

Types of obesity

Obesity according to distribution

According to fat distribution within the body, obesity can be classified into the following categories:

    • Peripheral obesity.- (Pear-shaped) Fat is distributed mostly below the waist, that is, around the hips, thighs and buttocks. It causes problems in the lower joints (knee osteoarthritis), varicose veins, etc.

      Since it is more common in women, it is also called Gynecoid Obesity.

    • Central obesity.- (Apple-shaped) Fat is concentrated mostly on the waist and above. It is more dangerous than peripheral obesity, since it entails great risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as diabetes, dyslipidaemias, etc.

      It is more common in men, which is why it is also called Android Obesity.

    • Homogeneous obesity.- Fat is evenly distributed throughout the body.

Endogenous and exogenous obesity

Although there are always multiple causes for obesity, exogenous obesity is when it is due to overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. Whereas endogenous obesity is caused by metabolic and endocrine problems.

Obesity according to cause

Although normally there are several reasons for a person being obese, obesity can also be classified according to cause.

We can talk about Chromosomal Obesity (due to a defect in the chromosomes), Nervous Obesity (when it is triggered by depression or stress), Dietary Obesity (due to overeating and not exercising) and many more.

Degrees of Obesity

LThe WHO (World Health Organization) has established up to four degrees of obesity according to BMI (Body Mass Index) above which overweight is considered:

Overweight BMI between 25.0 and 29.9
Degree of obesity 1 BMI between 30.0 and 34.5 Low risk
Degree of obesity 2 IBMI between 34.5 and 39.9 Moderate risk
Degree of obesity 3 BMI between 40.0 and 50.0

High risk / Morbid Obesity

Degree of obesity 4 BMI between above 50

Very high risk / Extreme obesity

Endocrinología - TiroidesEndocrinología - TiroidesTHYROID GLAND


It is one of the largest glands within the endocrine system. It is formed by a left and right lobe joined by an "isthmus". During pregnancy, it develops between week 3 and 5.

Among other hormones, it secretes Triiodothyronine (T3), Thyroxine (T4) and Calcitonin.

Its functions are:

  • To regulate the metabolism.

  • To regulate blood cholesterol levels.

  • To regulate the heart rhythm.

  • To regulate the functioning of the central nervous system, especially during the development period.

  • To maintain muscle strength.

  • To regulate body temperature.

  • During infancy, it is fundamental for physical and mental development, since the thyroid hormones are essential to synthesise many proteins.

  • To help to metabolise different nutrients.

  • To control the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus.

Usual pathologies


There is a decrease in hormone production. This deficit in thyroid hormones decreases general organic activity and many functions are affected, such as the neuronal, cardiovascular and metabolic functions, among many others.

Although it can appear in both sexes and at any age, it usually affects women between 30 and 60 years of age.

Symptoms are very varied; gaining weight, fatigue and muscle weakness are very characteristic, but other symptoms are also usually present, such as depression, memory problems, joint inflammation and pain, etc.

Children with hypothyroidism will suffer alterations to growth, mental development and delayed puberty.

As a result of hypothyroidism, goitre can also appear, where the thyroid gland becomes enlarged.

It is treated with the exterior provision of the deficient hormones.


Contrary to what happens in hypothyroidism, there is an excess production of thyroid hormones.

It is usually due to an autoimmune disease: "Graves disease".

It affects slightly less than 10% of the population, and is prevalent in women from 20 to 30 years of age.

It has negative consequences especially for the heart, with symptoms such as palpitations and tachycardias. In addition, people who suffer from Graves disease usually also suffer from exhaustion, nervousness and irritability, insomnia, tremors, etc.

To counteract excess hormones, there are antithyroid drugs.

Thyroid nodules

They can be carcinogenic or benign. If necessary, the nodules are surgically removed.

Thyroid gland pathology diagnosis

To see the condition of the thyroid gland, blood tests are performed analysing the existence of a series of indicators:

    • TSH: This hormone is the most precise indicator of thyroid function.
    • TSI: To quantify stimulating immunoglobulin from the thyroid gland.
    • T3 and T4: They quantify thyroid hormones.
    • Antithyroid antibodies.

In addition, diagnostic imaging tests such as CAT scans, ultrasounds or scintigraphy, a nuclear medicine test, are used, as well as the radioactive iodine uptake test.

Endocrinología - DiabetesEndocrinología - DiabetesDIABETES


Diabetes is a disease where glucose cannot be metabolised, so there are high blood sugar levels, known as hyperglycaemia. Glucose is used by the body as a source of energy.

The problem is that insulin is not produced, or if it is, it cannot be used for some reason.

Millions of people suffer from diabetes worldwide, to a point where it is almost considered an epidemic.

Types of diabetes

Type-1 diabetes

SIt occurs because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. It starts in youth or infancy, and is chronic. People who suffer from diabetes are insulin-dependent, they will need exogenous insulin for life.

Although the exact causes of type-1 diabetes are unknown, these are the known risk factors:

    • Genetic inheritance.- It is a predisposition, but little over 10% of children with this type of diabetes have parents or siblings that are also diabetic.
    • Autoimmune system.- Sometimes the antibodies themselves attack the insulin-producing cells (beta cells).
    • External agents.- Such as a virus or food.

Type-2 diabetes

It begins in adulthood, usually from the age of 40, although it can also appear in children. Unlike type-1 diabetes, people that suffer from it are not insulin-dependent. Depending on the level of compromise, it can be treated with diet, drugs and sometimes with exogenous insulin.

Risk factors:

    • Obesity: 80% of people withtype-2 diabetes are obese. Diet and lifestyle are key.
    • Genetic inheritance: it plays a much larger role that in type-1 diabetes. Almost all people with type-2 diabetes have a parent or grandparent who has also suffered from it.

Gestational Diabetes

One in 10 women will suffer from this type of diabetes during pregnancy. During pregnancy, metabolic activity increases, which means that a larger amount of insulin is needed, but there are women who are not able to produce this additional insulin.

Furthermore, it seems that this kind of diabetes is related to pregnancy-related hormone production that also reduces the action of insulin.

Symptoms vary from blurred vision, thirst, fatigue, vomiting and nausea, to vaginal infections.

Endocrinología - NutriciónEndocrinología - NutriciónNUTRITION


Nutrition is one of the foundations to improve endocrinologic pathologies. Especially a balanced diet, with a daily intake of iodine of 150 micrograms can help to prevent hypothyroidism problems.

The healthcare professional will carry out a series of medical tests which will allow them to assess hormone deficiencies or excesses, fat, etc. and thus provide suitable treatment according to the pathology.

Body Mass Index, waist circumference and fat values are important indicators of good health:

  • BMI: It is the result of dividing weight (in kilograms) between height (in meters) squared. Depending on sex and age, there is a small variation on what is considered normal BMI, but in general terms.-
    • BMI < 18.5 Underweight
    • BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 Normal – Healthy
    • BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 Overweight
    • BMI between 30.0 and 39.9 Obesity
    • BMI > 40.0 High-risk obesity
  • Waist or abdominal circumference can be a more significant value than BMI, in terms of cardiovascular problems, for example.
  • Visceral fat values (abdomen): This fat is the most harmful, since it surrounds vital organs and harm their function. It generates a series of toxins that promote metabolic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and can even cause an infarction.
    • Subcutaneous fat: it is superficial and stored in the upper and lower extremities.

With these values, other additional tests and the patient's clinical history, a personalised diet that helps with endocrine problems can be prescribed.

But there are a series of good habits that we can take into consideration:

Good diet habits

  • Eating fruits and vegetables.
  • More markets, fewer supermarkets.
  • Avoiding processed products.
  • Avoiding alcohol.
  • Controlling salt intake. Although, as we have seen, iodised salt prevents hypothyroidism problems.
  • Drinking two litres of water per day
  • Eating suitable types of fat:
    • Not eating saturated fats, such as those in refined oils and industrial bakery products.
    • Eating poly-unsaturated fats such as those in oily fish.
  • Food products rich in calcium and vitamin D are good in the case of hyperthyroidism.

Good lifestyle habits

  • Physical exercise.

  • Periodic control of analytic parameters:

    • Cholesterol

    • Glucose

  • Not smoking, since tobacco prevents iodine uptake.

  • hyperthyroidism, it will worsen it.