Q&A Endocrine Study Guide

Use this simple Q&A page over the endocrine system to test your knowledge and prepare for up comming tests.  Feel free to print, copy, share, and use this study guide in any way!


Remember: Adrenal HYPO function = addisons: Adrenal HYPER function=Cushings: Thyroid HYPER function=Graves

The biggest tip I can give with learning endocrine D/Os is to focus on the pituitary hormones.  What does each hormone do?  Once you know this you can quickly determine what the results of HYPER or HYPO function will be. ie. . . ACTH stimulates adrenal cortex to release cortisol.  What does cortisol do? think increased GLUCOSE, decreased IMMUNITY, decreased INFLAMMATION.  So, with HYPER function of the Adrenals we will have even more glucose, less immunity, and less inflammation. . . what would someone like this look like?  This is Cushings.  The opposite will lead to Addisons.  So think of how each gland interrelates, then simply think of what each hormone does. From there it becomes much easier to figure out what the resulting assessment findings will uncover.

HormoneGLANDUnder Production SyndromeOver Production Syndrome
GHanterior pituitaryacromegaly
ADHposterior pituitarydiabetes insipidusSIADH
T3,T4thyroidmyxedema comagraves
glucocorticoids: cortisoladrenaladdisonscushings
Insulinpancreasdiabetes mellitus

  • What are the two parts of the pituitary gland?
    • anterior and posterior
  • Name the 8 major endocrine glands:
    • pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pancreas, thymus, pineal, gonads
  • What regulates the release of anterior pituitary hormones?
    • hypothalamus
  • Name the 6 major hormones produced by the pituitary gland:
    • GH (growth hormone), TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), ACTH 9adrenocorticotropic hormone), FSH, LH, Prolactin
  • What hormones are produced and released by the thyroid?
    • T3, T4, Thyrocalcitonin
  • What is the purpose of T3 and T4?
    • regulate metabolism
  • What role does the pituitary play in metabolism?
    • production and release of TSH when stimulated by the hypothalamus.
  • What does thyrocalcitonon do?
    • lowers blood calcium by inhibiting bone resorption
  • What does the parathyroid do?
    • produce PTH (parathyroid hormone) which raises blood Ca levels
  • Where are the adrenal glands located?
    • on top of the kidneys
  • What are the two endocrine tissues within the adrenal glands?
    • adrenal medula and adrenal cortex
  • Name the two major hormones secreted by the adrenal medula and their functions:
    • The adrenal medula secretes two catecholamines: epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Epinephrine prepares the body for the fight or flight response by converting glycogen to glucose and increasing HR. Norepinephrine produces extensive vasoconstriction.
  • What stimulates the adrenal cortex?
    • ACTH adrenocorticotropic hormone from the anterior pituitary gland
  • What does ACTH stimulate the adrenal cortex to produce?
    • corticosteroids
  •  Name the 3 types of corticosteroids:
    • mineralcorticoids: aldersteron
    • glucocorticoids: cortisol
    • adrenal sex hormones: androgens & estrogen
  • What does cortisol do and how?
    • increase blood glucose by stimulating gluconeogensis, decrease inflammatory response, decrease immune response
  • Name 3 types of cells in the pancreas/where are they located?
    • Alpha, Beta, Delta . . . islets of Langerhans
  • What does each cell type secrete and what is the purpose?
    • Alpha . . . glucagon . . . increase glucose via gluconeogensis
    • Beta . . . insulin . . . regulate protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism
    • Delta . . . somatostatin . . . inhibitory hormone
  • What hormones will be affected with anterior pituitary dysfunction?
  • What assessment findings are common in anterior hypopituitarism?
    • mainly affects thyroid, adrenal, and gonadal function. Atrophy of all endocrine glands, hair loss, impotence, amenorrhea, hypoglycemia
  • Anterior hyperpituitarism often results in altered ACTH or GH secretion; what assessment findings will you see with hyper secretion of these hormones?
    • coarse features, thick heel pads, thick tongue, decreased libido, amenhorrhea, impotence, acromegaly
  • What hormone is undersecreted with Diabetes Insipidus? What gland is affected?
    • ADH (vasopressin) from the posterior pituitary
  • Why does diabetes insipidus result in excess urine production?
    • ADH promotes resorption of fluid in distal tubules.  Without resorption  massive amounts of urine are excreted.
  • With SIADH what is the result of over secretion of ADH?
    • excessive water conservation
  • SIADH and diabetes insipidus are the result of a malfunction of what endocrine gland?
    • posterior pituitary
  • Hyperthyroidism is also known as?
    • Graves Disease
  • What is the main function of the thyroid?
    • metabolism
  • What are the clinical manifestations of hyperthyroidism (Graves)
    • responsiveness to catecholimes
    • increase metabolism
    • increased heat
    • weight change
    • increased appetite
    • insomnia
    • nervousness
    • bruit heard over thyroid
    • warm, sweaty skin
    • exopthalmus
    • goiter
    • increase systolic BP
    • tremor
  • What can cause thyroid storm?
    • uncontrolled hyperthyroid, surgery, infection
  • Name 2 immediate interventions for a client experiencing thyroid storm:
    • admin Tylenol, provide cooling blanket
  • Why should you NEVER admin aspirin to a client in thyroid storm?
    • in can increase thyroid hormone levels
  • What will be the effect of Ca levels with hyperthyroidism?
    • hypocalcemia
  • What will be the effect of Ca levels with hypothyroidism?
    • hypercalcemia due to a decrease in Thyrocalcitonin
  • What are the common assessment finding with hypothyroidism?
    • lethargy, weakness, muscle aches, CHF, dry skin, Brady, constipation, weight gain
  • What is the cause of myxedema coma?
    • persistently low thyroid production
  • What assessment findings would you see with myxedema coma?
    • hypotension, hypotermia, hypoglycemia, brady
  • What will be the effect on serum Ca levels in hyperparathyroid?
    • increased Ca and bone demineralization
  • What are common assessment findings of hyperparathyroidism?
    • fatigue, wt loss, fractures, HTN, joint pain, polyuria, renal calculi . . . think increased Ca
  • What two tests will be positive with hypoparathyroidism?
    • chvotsek and Trousseaus
  • What is a KEY sign of hypoparathyroidism and why?
    • carpopedal spams indicate neuromuscular irritability – sign of decreased Ca levels
  • What are the classic signs of adrenal hyperfunction?
    • buffalo hump, moon face, fatigue, muscle weakness, hyperglycemia
  • What is the cause of hyperglycemia in adrenal hyperfunction?
    • adrenal cortex secrets cortisol which increases blood glucose by stimulating gluconeogensis
  • What is adrenal hyperfunction called?
    • Cushings Syndrome
  • What is adrenal hypofunction called?
    • Addisons Disease
  • Name the symptoms of Addisons disease:
    • hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, GI disturbances, hyperpigmentation due to decreased secretion of cortisol

Selected Resource:

Hargrove-Huttel, R. (2000). Lippincott’s review series: Medical-surgical nursing . (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.

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