The Endocrine System

Click here to listen to a reading of this blog:


Exciting news, my book is finally here! New to learning about your thyroid health? Learn why it's important to be your own health advocate in my book now. Available on Amazon

This post may contain affiliate links, to find out more information, please read my disclosure statement.

The endocrine system is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones. These hormones regulate the body’s growth, metabolism and sexual function.

The endocrine system includes the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pineal gland, and the reproductive organs (ovaries and testes). The pancreas is also a part of this system; it has a role in hormone production as well as in digestion.

The Thyroid in The Endocrine System 

The hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary gland, which stimulates the pituitary to secrete TSH. This TSH then tells the thyroid gland to secrete hormones, such as T3 and T4.

So imagine it like this: 

Hypothalamus (sends signal to) > Pituitary (sends signal to) > Thyroid

So, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland work to ensure the thyroid functions correctly, releasing the hormones (T3 and T4) and the amounts of them that we need, in order to feel well. However, having hypothyroidism, this doesn’t always happen. A problem can be the hypothalamus, the pituitary or the thyroid itself not doing its job in this sequence.

In primary hypothyroidism, your thyroid is being stimulated properly, but it isn’t producing enough thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). This means that the thyroid itself is the source of the problem. This is what most of us with hypothyroidism have.

In secondary hypothyroidism, the pituitary gland or hypothalamus isn’t stimulating the thyroid to produce enough hormones. In other words, the problem isn’t with the thyroid, but the pituitary or hypothalamus. This is much less common. An example is hypopituitarism.

Primary hypothyroidism is the most common type of hypothyroidism, with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis being the main cause (at around 90%) of primary hypothyroidism cases. Both secondary and primary hypothyroidism are usually treated using thyroid hormone replacement medication.

The Adrenals

The adrenal glands are also part of the endocrine system, so it’s understandable that when the thyroid goes wrong, i.e. is under attack from Hashimoto’s and not properly managed, the adrenals can also feel the strain.

The adrenals usually act by producing extra cortisol, when the body is under stress, to keep us going. However, the adrenals can only keep this up for so long, before they dysfunction, leading to adrenal fatigue (though it is more accurately referred to as hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction), such as high, low or combined high and low cortisol. In Thyroid Pharmacist Izabella Wentz’s experience, adrenal dysfunction is present in 90% of us with autoimmune hypothyroidism.

Adrenal fatigue symptoms include tiredness, sleep disturbances, heat intolerance, sweats/flushes, weight gain especially around the stomach, anxiety, changes to personality and feeling irritable, with a ‘normal’ or low TSH readings and a high Free T3 level.

You need to complete a 24 hour four point saliva test to determine if you have adrenal dysfunction and then work on correcting it, if so. You can find a test for those in the UK here and the US here.

The thyroid and adrenals work together to keep many bodily functions and processes working correctly, so we feel and function well. They’re both part of the endocrine system, and when treating hypothyroidism, we need to keep in mind that we also need to work on keeping the whole endocrine system healthy to support good thyroid and adrenal health.

Sex hormone imbalances can also occur with other endocrine issues.

If you have adrenal issues, you will need to correct them in order for your thyroid medication to work to its full potential, and if you have thyroid problems, you need to ensure that it is managed properly to minimise stress done to the adrenals.

Did you know how the different parts of the endocrine system worked with one another?

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

Adrenal Fatigue by James Wilson

If you found this article beneficial, please take a moment to share it so we can help others get better with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's, whilst also raising awareness. "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate."

Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

Newsletter
Sign up to The Invisible Hypothyroidism's newsletter

You'll get an easy to digest, relevant round up of thyroid news, advice and support to get you feeling better, once every two weeks.

Don’t stay feeling rubbish. Get better.
Social
Get real, helpful advice directly from another thyroid patient. Me!

Give my Facebook page a like, follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest.

Community
Join My Facebook Support Group for patients

Join My Facebook Support Group for patients Thyroid Family: Hypothyroidism Advice & Support Group


One thought on “The Endocrine System

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.