What Is the Connection between the Endocrine System and Diabetes?

Debra Barnhart

The endocrine system is a group of glands that work in tandem to control body functions, such as cell growth, metabolism and absorption of nutrients. A part of the endocrine system, the pancreas secretes insulin to help the body’s cells take in nourishment, which makes the endocrine system and diabetes related. Abnormalities in insulin output can result in diabetes, because the body cannot properly break down glucose or sugar in the blood. Diabetes can have a number of serious side effects, so it is important for people to recognize the symptoms of this disease and seek medical attention if needed.

The endocrine system is responsible for producing and regulating hormones in the bloodstream to control bodily functions.
The endocrine system is responsible for producing and regulating hormones in the bloodstream to control bodily functions.

Hormones that work as messengers to control a variety of functions, including growth, reproduction and absorption of necessary nutrients are secreted by the endocrine system. The endocrine system and diabetes are closely related because a malfunction of the pancreas or in the body’s ability to process insulin can cause a cascading group of problems. In serious cases, this can even result in a breakdown of body organs.

If the pancreas fails to properly produce insulin, blood glucose levels will rise.
If the pancreas fails to properly produce insulin, blood glucose levels will rise.

The pancreas works in a slow and steady manner to maintain balance in the metabolism. After a meal, the digestive system breaks food down into essential components that can be absorbed by cells and put to work by the body. The presence of sugar in the bloodstream sends a signal to the pancreas to release insulin into the blood. Insulin in the bloodstream allows glucose to pass into cells where it is transformed into energy.

Diabetes occurs either when the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin, which is called type one diabetes, or when the body becomes resistant to insulin that the pancreas puts out, which is called type two diabetes. Of the two forms, type one is more severe, but accounts for only about five percent of the cases of diabetes. Type one diabetes often occurs in childhood and requires patients to take insulin every day to keep the body functioning. The body becomes inefficient in the way it uses the insulin that the pancreas manufactures as a result of type two diabetes. This form of diabetes often occurs in overweight people and is particularly associated with abdominal fat.

The impact of a malfunctioning endocrine system and diabetes can be severe, and it can be an underlying cause of many diseases. Diabetes can cause blood vessel damage, blindness and kidney failure. The symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, thirstiness, unaccountable weight loss, blurry vision and slow healing of the skin. People with these symptoms should contact their physicians as early treatment can prevent some of the damage that a breakdown in the endocrine system and diabetes can cause.

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