Types of Endocrine Glands

All types of endocrine glands are part of system that generates and excretes hormones within the body (as opposed to exocrine system glands, which produce substances that are carried out of the body by ducts). The hormones produced by these glands function as messengers, and they are carried through the blood stream to other organs throughout the body, where they help regulate bodily functions that range from growth to reproduction.

Some of the major endocrine glands are located in the brain, including the pineal gland, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is seen as the switchboard of the endocrine system, connecting the nervous system to the endocrine system, and is responsible for providing hormones that cause other glands to start or stop producing hormones of their own. The pituitary gland, which is often referred to as the “master gland” for its wide range of responsibilities, supplies the body with growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, and several other essential hormones. Other endocrine glands occur in the neck, including thyroid and parathyroid glands, which help control the basal metabolic rate of the body, stimulate bone construction, and regulate levels of calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream.

There are several additional endocrine glands that reside in the abdomen, with major glands including the pancreas and adrenal glands. The pancreas, which is located behind the stomach, regulates levels of sugars within the bloodstream through the use of insulin and other hormones. The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and produce adrenaline, as well several steroid hormones. Although reproductive organs, including the ovaries (in women) and the testes (in men), serve other functions, they can also be considered as endocrine glands because they produce hormones as well.

When all of the body’s endocrine glands are working well together, the body can regulate basic functions, digest food properly, grow, and react appropriately to stress. However, there are many endocrine disorders in which the glands aren’t producing the right amount of hormones, there aren’t enough hormone receptors available for them to function correctly, or the organs are simply not responding to the signals given by the hormones.

Tampa General Hospital has the resources necessary to treat a wide variety of endocrine disorders, including diabetes, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, and many other conditions. In fact, TGH was named one of America's Best Hospitals for Diabetes & Endocrinology by U.S. News & World Report.