Endocrinology 101: The Role of Hormones

Sierra Nevada Specialty Care has developed Endocrinology 101, a series of blogs designed to help you understand the endocrine system and its role in your body’s overall function and development. In this first blog we discuss the role of hormones.

What are hormones?
Hormones are commonly associated with reproduction and their effect on moods or behavior. In fact, hormones have a much more diverse role. Hormones serve as our body’s chemical messengers, sending signals into the bloodstream and tissues.
Essentially, they let the body know what to do so it will run smoothly

Hormones affect many different processes, including:
• Metabolism (the way you break down food and get energy from nutrients)
• Growth and development
• Emotions and mood
• Fertility and sexual function
• Sleep
• Blood pressure
• Immune system
• Nervous system

Hormones are part of our body’s endocrine system, which is comprised of a complex network of organs, also called glands. The hormones secreted by these glands control the body functions noted above. Our endocrine system continuously monitors the amount of hormone in our blood. When glands do not produce the right amount of hormone, diseases can develop.

Hormone producing glands:
• Hypothalamus
• Pituitary
• Thyroid
• Parathyroid
• Adrenal
• Pineal
• Pancreas
• Ovaries
• Testes

“Hormones are one of our body’s quiet heroes,” explains Dr. David Howard, MD, PhD, principal endocrinologist at Sierra Nevada Specialty Care. “When they are functioning well, we can ignore them. But when there is an imbalance, it becomes apparent that our bodies are not functioning correctly.”

How hormones work (or don’t)
Hormones travel through our bloodstream to tissues and organs in search of target cells. As hormones pass through the bloodstream, they recognize target cells, bind to them, and stimulate the cell to behave in a certain way.

Hormones don’t always function properly. If hormone levels are too high or too low, hormone disease results. Hormone diseases also occur when the body does not respond to hormones the way it is supposed to. Stress, infection and changes in fluid and electrolyte balance can also influence hormone levels.

Fatigue, Muscle weakness, mood swings, bloating, insomnia, weight gain, headaches, fertility problems, weak bones, anemia, and heart failure or just some of the conditions that can result from hormone imbalance. We will discuss specific hormone disorders in an upcoming blog.

If you have been diagnosed with a hormone disorder, treatment from a medical expert may be necessary. Sierra Nevada Specialty Care has a team of endocrine specialists able to address hormone imbalances and dysfunction to help restore body function and quality of life. To learn more, visit our website. To make an appointment, call 775-322-4550.

Stay tuned for additional blogs in this Endocrinology 101 series, explaining the endocrinology system.