Studying Endocrine Disease often feels overwhelming to nursing students. The key to mastering this body system is to know the hormones, and to remember that the endocrine diseases come in pairs. There is one set of symptoms for hyper function, which is when too much hormone is secreted. Then there is an opposite set of symptoms for hypo function, when not enough hormone is secreted.
The Pituitary Gland is called the master gland of the body because it sends out hormones to target organs, telling them to start secreting the target organ’s hormone. Most of the names of these hormones contain the word stimulating. That will remind you that their function is to turn on production and secretion of hormones in the receptor gland, thus making that gland do its job in the body.
The Posterior Pituitary secretes only two hormones: Antidiuretic (ADH) and Oxytocin. All other pituitary hormones are secreted by the Anterior Pituitary Gland. The Anterior Pituitary hormones are the ones that have a stimulating effect on the receptor glands.
A great way to study Endocrine diseases is to start with two columns: one for hyper function and one for hypo function. On the side of your columns, write out each receptor gland (i.e. pancreas, thyroid, etc). Then start filling out your chart by listing the symptoms, treatment, and nursing care for each gland when it is hyper and hypo function. Also make sure to write out any emergency situations that can arise from too much (or too little) secretion of a hormone (i.e. Thyroid storm, Addisonian Crisis).
Once you get it all organized in a chart, you’ll see how easy it can be to learn Endocrine disorders. And you’ll start to notice the patterns of symptoms in each pair of disorders, which will make it easier to remember on test day!
If you want some more practice in understanding Endocrine disorders, make sure you also review the Endocrine Case Studies Study Guide. We’re not posting the answers, though, because after you study Endocrine diseases this way, you’ll be smart enough to figure out the Case Study answers on your own! Have fun!