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Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Endocrinology

Endocrinology is a specialty of medicine; some would say a sub-specialty of internal medicine, which deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to hormones. Endocrinology covers such human functions as the coordination of metabolism, respiration, reproduction, sensory perception, and movement.

Endocrinology is also a complex study of the various hormones and their actions and disorders in the body. Glands are organs that make hormones. These are substances that help to control activities in the body and have several effects on the metabolism, reproduction, food absorption and utilization, growth and development etc.

Hormones also control the way an organism responds to their surroundings and help by providing adequate energy for various functions.

The glands that make up the endocrine system include the pineal, hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenals, pancreas, ovaries and testes.

Who is an Endocrinologist?

Endocrinologists are specially trained physicians who diagnose diseases related to the glands. The diseases they are trained to treat often affect other parts of the body beyond glands. While primary care doctors know a lot about the human body, for diseases and conditions directly related to glands they will usually send a patient to an endocrinologist.

What Does an Endocrinologist Do?

The glands in a person’s body release hormones. Endocrinologists treat people who suffer from hormonal imbalances, typically from glands in the endocrine system. The overall goal of treatment is to restore the normal balance of hormones found in a patient’s body. Some of the more common conditions treated by endocrinologists include:

  • Menopause
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Lack of growth
  • Osteoporosis
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Cancers of the endocrine glands
  • Over- or under-production of hormones
  • Cholesterol disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Infertility

Diabetes mellitus

This is one of the most common conditions seen by endocrinologists. This results due to inadequate insulin hormone secreted by the pancreas leading to excess blood sugar that damages various organs.

Endocrinologists treat diabetes with diet and blood sugar reducing medications, including insulin. They also work closely with patients to control blood sugar and monitor them so they can prevent health problems.

Thyroid disorders

This could be an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism or underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism.

Endocrinologists treat patients reach a hormone balance by replacing or blocking thyroid hormone depending on whether there is hypo or hyperthyroidism.

Other common diseases and disorders that endocrinologists manage

  • Metabolic diseases
  • Menopause and its hormonal unbalances
  • Over- or underproduction of hormones
  • Osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency leading to osteomalacia and rickets in children
  • Infertility
  • Precocious puberty
  • Lack of growth (short stature)
  • Pediatric endocrine diseases
  • Excessive growth or acromegaly/gigantism
  • Cancers of the endocrine glands
  • High blood pressure due to endocrine dysfunctions like adrenal gland tumors pheochromocytoma
  • High blood cholesterol or lipid abnormalities associated with heart disease

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