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What Is the Connection between the Endocrine System and Homeostasis?

By Erik J.J. Goserud
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The endocrine system and homeostasis are primarily related in that certain causes of imbalance may be corrected through endocrine intervention. Homeostasis can be thought of as a balanced state of a system. This may refer to any system or apply to a living thing, as in the case of physiology. Steady state, a similar term, differs from homeostasis in that it refers to a balance elevated above the baseline, whereas homoestasis is balance at the baseline. When homeostasis is thrown out of balance through internal or external measures, the body must act to restore this state. If the culprit for imbalance is hormonal in nature, then the endocrine system and homeostasis are intricately related.

Almost any physiological action taken by a healthy body is an act to maintain homeostasis. There are a constant and endless amount of stressors attempting to throw the body out of balance. Walking up the stairs requires energy, which makes the body's cardiovascular and muscular systems work harder, requiring an elevated state. The body then must counter this by finding ways to brings itself back to baseline.

The endocrine system is a collection of glands, or hormone-releasing structures that act to directly inject these regulatory chemicals into the bloodstream. It is not to be confused with the similar exocrine system, which utilizes ducts to induce hormonal change and is not a direct pathway to the bloodstream. Once in circulation, these hormones travel to the different organs of the body, and if their particular target receptors are present, they cause a chain of events that conclude in a desired physiological effect.

If, for example, the heart is beating too fast without any physiological necessity, the endocrine system and homeostasis would be related in that a hormone may slow the heart. This hormone could be released by a particular gland directly into the bloodstream and circulated to a number of organs. Each hormone, however, has a particular receptor, and unless this receptor is present, no effect will be had. Therefore, only the organs that are targeted for hormonal intervention will be affected by the release of a hormone.

In summary, the endocrine system and homeostasis are related in that, together, they enable everyday functioning to be possible. Without hormonal intervention, the human body would have no way, in many cases, of changing its metabolism in a way necessary for balance. For this reason, the endocrine system is a very important part of physiological regulation.

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Discussion Comments

By bluedolphin — On Feb 11, 2014

@SarahGen-- Those are good questions. I'm not a doctor or anything, so I could be wrong. I think that you are not in homeostasis if your diabetes is not being controlled with medication.

What basically happens during diabetes is that you either lack insulin or the insulin is not being recognized by your cells. So you have glucose accumulating in your blood stream. The pancreas is either not detecting this or it is detecting it but the insulin is not being used. So homeostasis is disrupted because your cells, especially your brain is not getting the energy it requires. Furthermore, excess sugar causes damage to blood vessels.

If you take insulin or other anti-diabetic medication however, you can help the endocrine system function well again and you can return to homeostasis. The medications will do what your body can't naturally and will get the necessary energy to your cells.

Ask your doctor about this for a better explanation.

By SarahGen — On Feb 10, 2014

I have diabetes. What does this mean in terms of my endocrine system and homeostasis. Is my body always out of homeostasis?

By ZipLine — On Feb 10, 2014

The connection between the endocrine system and homeostasis appears to be very complicated. There are so many different factors and mechanisms. And each mechanism results in many other changes. It's like a chain reaction or a domino's effect. One single thing, sets off another reaction, which sets off another and another. And all of this is done to reach homeostasis once again. Our body is really working very hard to stay in balance.

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