Who is an endocrinologist?
An endocrinologist is a specialist doctor who treats imbalances of hormones or the endocrine system of the body. An endocrinologist is trained for almost two to three years in endocrinology after completing four years of medical schooling and three years of post-graduation in internal medicine.
Hormones are secreted by the endocrine glands of the body. Different hormones have different actions. Each hormone acts on a specific body part. They help in the growth and development of the body and regulate various bodily functions. Some hormones help in your growth and development, some help in regulating your blood pressure and temperature, and others help a woman to conceive or become pregnant.
Hormones play an indirect yet crucial role in your
Endocrinology is a branch of the medical field that deals with diseases related to hormones and the glands that secrete them (endocrine glands). The glands that secrete the hormones include:
- Pancreas: A gland located in your abdomen that makes insulin and glucagon.
- Thyroid: A butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that controls your metabolism, energy, and brain growth and development.
- Pituitary gland: A pea-sized gland located at the base of your brain that controls all the other hormones.
- Adrenal glands: A pair of glands, one on each side of the abdomen, located on the top of your kidneys. They exert control on your blood pressure, metabolism, stress response, and sex hormones.
- Parathyroid glands: Four small glands in your neck that control the level of calcium in your blood.
- Hypothalamus: A small gland located at the base of your brain that controls body temperature, hunger, and thirst.
- Ovaries: Reproductive glands (gonads) in females that contain eggs.
- Testes: Reproductive glands (gonads) in males that contain sperms.
- Pineal gland: A gland found near the center of the brain that may be linked to sleep patterns.
- Thymus: A gland in the upper part of your chest that helps in the development of the body’s immune system during the early stages of your life.
What type of diseases does an endocrinologist treat?
An endocrinologist treats diseases due to the imbalance of hormones in the body. Endocrine diseases may be either due to an increase or decrease in the production or secretion of hormones.
The most common diseases treated by an endocrinologist include:
- Diabetes mellitus type 1 and type 2
- Thyroid disorders
Other diseases that an endocrinologist treats include:
- Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD)
- Addison’s disease (deficiency of hormones in adrenal glands)
- Cushing’s syndrome (excessive production of the hormone cortisol which leads to weight gain and puffy face)
- Gigantism (a child whose bones and body parts grow abnormally fast)
- Dwarfism (abnormally short stature)
- Certain cancers of the endocrine glands
Why would someone see an endocrinologist?
You would be referred to an endocrinologist by your family doctor, or you can visit him/her on your own if you have the following signs:
- You are a diabetic and
- Your high blood sugar level has not been controlled by your doctor’s treatment
- Your doctor does not have experience in treating diabetes
- You are on many insulin shots or on an insulin pump
- You have developed complications of diabetes
- You have abnormalities found in your thyroid blood tests
- You have developed brittle bones (osteoporosis)
- You are a female with irregular periods
- If you have a short stature that does not match your age
- Usually, mothers approach the endocrinologist for this problem in their children during puberty.
- You suffer from excessive hair loss (alopecia)
- You are a male whose breast size is increasing (gynecomastia)
What tests are used by an endocrinologist?
Your endocrinologist will ask you a lot of questions that may seem irrelevant to you, but these are necessary because an endocrine disease affects the whole body.
Several tests usually asked for by an endocrinologist include:
- Blood sugar level
- Complete blood count
- Kidney function test
- Liver function test
- Thyroid function tests
- Thyroid antibodies test including thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies
- Cortisol level
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) level
- Prolactin level
- Testosterone level
- The doctor may order a urine sugar test if you have diabetes.
Your endocrinologist may order the following radiological tests to ascertain his diagnosis:
- Ultrasonography (USG) of the pelvis: To check abnormalities in your pancreas and reproductive organs.
- Doppler scan of the thyroid
- X-ray of bones to check for osteoporosis
- Computed tomography scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Positron emission tomography scan if the doctor suspects cancer
- Opdivo Could Boost Outcomes for People Battling Hodgkin Lymphoma
- More U.S. Kids, Teens Are Getting Weight-Loss Surgeries
- Could a Nitroglycerin Patch Ease Hot Flashes?
- One Form of Menopause Hormone Therapy Might Raise Blood Pressure
- Targeted Drug May Lower Odds for Breast Cancer's Return in Some Patients
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Diseases Does an Endocrinologist Treat Related Articles
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
Hashimoto's ThyroiditisHashimoto's thyroiditis or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder causing inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a type of hypothyroidism and is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US.
Symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis may include dry skin, fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold, excessive sleepiness, dry skin, dry coarse hair, difficulty swallowing, a lump in the front of the throat, muscle cramps, mood changes, vague aches and pains, problems concentrating, leg swelling, constipation, and depression.
There is no cure for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Diet changes, natural supplements, vitamins, or other natural products will not treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Treatment for the autoimmune disorder is with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which will be necessary for the rest of the person’s life.
Hormonal Methods of Birth ControlThere are several different hormonal methods of birth control. The hormones can be estrogen and/or progesterone. The hormones can be taken by mouth, implanted into body tissue, absorbed from a patch on the skin, injected under the skin, or placed in the vagina. Common types of hormonal birth control include: "The Pill" (oral contraceptives), injection (Depo-Provera, Lunelle), the patch (Ortho-Evra), and the vaginal ring (Nuvaring).
25 Hormone Imbalance Symptoms and SignsHormone imbalance involves changes in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormone levels. Hormonal imbalance in women may cause symptoms like weight gain, hot flashes, fatigue, and acne. Hormonal changes happen in menopause and at other times. Women with hormone imbalances can seek treatment from medications like triptans and SSRIs.
Hormone TherapyEstrogen therapy, estrogen/progestin therapy, and hormone therapy are terms that refer to the administration of estrogen or estrogen/progestin for the purpose of suppressing hot flashes. Side effects of hormone therapy include headaches, nausea, breast pain, blood clots, breast cancer, heart disease, abnormal vaginal bleeding, stroke, and uterine cancer.
Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid hormone due to an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms can include increased heart rate, weight loss, heart palpitations, frequent bowel movements, depression, fatigue, fine or brittle hair, sleep problems, thinning skin, and irregular vaginal bleeding.
Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Many other health problems or taking excess thyroid hormone medication can cause an overactive thyroid gland. Treatment for the condition is with medication, radioactive iodine, thyroid surgery (rarely), or reducing the dose of thyroid hormone. No diet has been shown to treat hyperthyroidism or its symptoms and signs.
Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms, Treatment, MedicationWhat are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism? What causes hyperthyroidism? What happens when you take thyroid medication? Hyperthyroidism occurs when an overactive thyroid gland produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormone. Learn hyperthyroidism causes, symptoms, and treatment.
HypothyroidismHypothyroidism is any state in which thyroid hormone production is below normal. Normally, the rate of thyroid hormone production is controlled by the brain by the pituitary gland. Hypothyroidism is a very common condition and the symptoms of hypothyroidism are often subtle but may include constipation, memory loss, hair loss, and depression. There are a variety of causes of hypothyroidism, and treatment depends on the cause.
Hypothyroidism During PregnancyHypothyroidism during pregnancy can be treated with synthetic thyroid hormones to maintain the proper thyroid hormone balance. Hypothyroidism symptoms and signs include fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, and constipation. Check out the center below for more medical references on pregnancy and hypothyroidism, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
Thyroid CancerThere are four major types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Tumors on the thyroid are referred to as thyroid nodules. Symptoms of thyroid cancer include swollen lymph nodes, pain in the throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, and a lump near the Adam's apple. Treatment usually involves chemotherapy, surgery, radioactive iodine, hormone treatment or external radiation and depends upon the type of thyroid cancer, the patient's age, the tumor size, and whether the cancer has metastasized.
Thyroid Disorders Symptoms and SignsThyroid diseases and disorders are caused because the body either makes too much or too little thyroid hormones, which are necessary for vital functions of the body.
Thyroid disease and disorder symptoms and signs depend on the type of the thyroid problem. Examples include heat or cold intolerance, sweating, weight loss or gain, palpitations, fatigue, dry skin, constipation, brittle hair, joint aches and pains, heart palpitations, edema, feeling bloated, puffiness in the face, reduced menstrual flow, changes in the frequency of bowel movements and habits, high cholesterol, hoarseness, brittle hair, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, a visible lump or swelling in the neck, tremors, memory problems, depression, nervousness, agitation, irritability, or poor concentration.
Thyroid problems are more common in women.
Thyroid DisordersThere are several types of thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiters, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. Symptoms vary by condition. Diagnosis is made with blood tests, scans, ultrasound, or biopsy. Treatments depend on the disorder and can include medication or surgery.
Illustrations of ThyroidThe thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck just below the Adams apple. See a picture of the Thyroid and learn more about the health topic.
Your Thyroid: Common Thyroid Problems and Diseases ExplainedLearn about thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, and more. Discover symptoms and treatments for various thyroid problems.
Thyroid QuizYour unexplained change in weight could indicate a thyroid condition. Take the Thyroid Quiz to learn about common symptoms and treatments of overactive and underactive thyroid disorders.