When diagnosed with hormonal conditions, patients are often referred to a specialist physician by the primary care doctors. This medical specialist, known as an endocrinologist, helps restore hormonal balance in the patient’s body.
Though most general practitioners have the knowledge and skills required to diagnose and treat basic hormonal disorders, in case of serious and complicated conditions of this kind, a referral to an endocrinologist would be appropriate. This ensures that the patient will get the required specialized treatment and the hormonal issue will be addressed in a competent and efficient manner.
What is an Endocrinologist?
An endocrinologist is a physician who thoroughly studies the human endocrine system and hormones and the health complications that occur due to their imbalances. They can provide patients with optimal and specialized treatment when the condition they are suffering from becomes too complex for the general physician to handle.
There are about 50 kinds of hormones found in the human body. They are present in minimal amounts, but can have a great impact on bodily processes and overall development. Even small issues with the hormones can lead to serious and life-threatening health conditions. Endocrinology deals with the hormones as well as the various glands and tissues that secrete them.
Now, let us learn about the discipline of endocrinology to know what this specialist does on a regular basis.
What is the Role of an Endocrinologist in the Healthcare Sector?
During the first consultation with an endocrinologist, he or she asks the patients about their medical history. The previous physical examinations, past health complications and treatments, medications, allergies, family and community medical history will also be talked about.
After knowing all the necessary details, the physician might suggest a few medical tests depending on the endocrinological problem you are suffering from. The physical tests include:
- Blood tests to examine the levels of different hormones in the body, and the associated proteins present in the blood.
- Imaging tests to check the affected gland. These tests can be X-rays, CT scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), ultrasound scans, or nuclear scans.
This specialist will also observe the symptoms of the disease in the patient along with the complications it causes, and plan the treatment accordingly.
The common disorders and diseases treated by an endocrinologist are listed below.
- Diabetes Mellitus
One of the typical health condition treated by endocrinologists is diabetes. This disease is caused due to insufficient secretion of the hormone known as insulin by the pancreas. This results in a rise in the sugar levels in the bloodstream. This high level of blood sugar can affect the different organs of the body and even damage them.
Endocrinologists advise their patients to follow a diabetes-friendly diet and prescribe medications to reduce the blood sugar level, including insulin, if required. They also monitor the patients to keep their blood sugar level under control and prevent any related health problems.
- Thyroid Problems
Thyroid disorders include either an under-active thyroid, known as hypothyroidism or an over-active thyroid, referred to as hyperthyroidism. Among the other complex thyroid conditions, there are some benign or non-cancerous thyroid diseases as well as thyroid cancer.
Endocrinologists help patients affected by thyroid problems attain a hormone balance by blocking or replacing the thyroid hormones.
- Pituitary Gland Diseases
The pituitary gland is responsible for the proper functioning of other glands in the body. It also produces many essential hormones. The under and over production of pituitary hormones can result in an imbalance that may cause infertility, growth problems, menstrual disorders, and excessive secretion of cortisol hormone, or Cushing’s syndrome.
Endocrinologists treat these conditions with the help of various drugs and may also refer the patients to surgeons if necessary.
Endocrinologists provide medical care to patients who are overweight or obese, especially due to metabolic or hormonal disorders. They also treat several factors connected with obesity, like genetic issues and insulin resistance.
- Bone Diseases
One of the most common types of bone diseases suffered by Americans is osteoporosis, which occurs due to the failure of the body in making new bones. This may lead to a weakened skeleton. The main cause of osteoporosis in women is the reduction in estrogen levels during menopause and the depletion of testosterone in men. Another bone disease is osteomalacia or rickets which softens the bones.
Endocrinologists diagnose and treat both of these bone conditions. They also help patients with other disorders that can cause damage to the bones. Some such issues are the prolonged usage of steroids and over-secretion of the parathyroid hormone.
Hypertension refers to high blood pressure, which is the leading cause of heart disease. This health disorder is caused because of genetic reasons and a family history of heart disease. Hormonal imbalances may also be one of the factors leading to hypertension. All the health conditions associated with hypertension are treated by endocrinologists.
As you are familiar with the role of an endocrinologist now, you can consult this specialist if you or a loved one start displaying the symptoms of a hormonal disease or disorder. The sooner you consult this specialist for your health condition, the faster you will be able to recover and prevent further deterioration of your health.