Endocrinologists are medical professionals who specialize in glands and the hormones they produce. They also deal with chemical processes in the body and how they help the body turn food into energy, grow, heal, and function. They can work with people of all ages and help treat a variety of illnesses and diseases.
How does a doctor become an Endocrinologist?
To become an endocrinologist, a person must attend college for four years and then attend medical school for another four years. After graduating medical school, they complete a residency for three years and then study for two to three more years to specialize in endocrinology. It can take up to 10 years before an endocrinologist becomes certified and licensed to work.
What are some common health problems that Endocrinologists treat?
Endocrinologists treat numerous health problems. They help improve the way glands release hormones and how those hormones affect organs in the body. Some of the common health problems they treat include:
- High Cholesterol
- Metabolism Problems
- Pancreas Issues
- Digestive Problems
- Calcium Deficiencies
- Hormone Imbalances
- Reproductive Problems
- Thyroid Disorders
What types of procedures or tests can Endocrinologists order?
- Diabetes Tests: These tests are done to determine if a person has diabetes. They often include blood, urine, and insulin reaction tests.
- Thyroid Tests: Thyroid disease can cause weight loss or weight gain. Endocrinologists can conduct tests on the thyroid gland to determine if it is hyperactive or hypoactive. These tests also look for tumors and other problems that could be causing the thyroid to malfunction.
- Growth Tests: Many hormones and gland issues can affect growth. Blood tests look for human growth hormone levels to make sure they are accurate and that the patient is growing properly. The tests might also include insulin resistance tests, CT scans of the pituitary gland, and blood pressure tests.
- Bone Tests: When hormones release too much or too little calcium, the bones can be affected. Bone tests check to see if there are abnormal levels of calcium or vitamin D or bone loss. These tests also check for signs of osteoporosis.
- Reproduction Tests: Reproduction tests are designed to test the hormones that are released from reproductive organs. They might include follicle-stimulating hormone blood tests, clomiphene citrate challenge tests, and progestin challenge tests. These tests help determine if the sexual organs are functioning properly or if there is a hormonal problem.
How do Endocrinologists treat patients?
Since endocrinologists treat so many different things, the method of treatment depends on what part of the body is being affected and what is causing the problem. Some common treatments include:
- Oral Medications: Oral medications can be prescribed to help reduce hormone levels or increase them. These medications are used to treat glands that are overactive or underactive.
- Surgery: In cases where there are tumors growing on the glands or when the glands themselves have stopped working or are overactive, surgery might be an option. Surgeons can remove parts of some glands to help the glands function normally again.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy can be used to shrink glands. This is often used when a person has an overactive thyroid or pituitary gland.
- Specific Treatments: Certain diseases, such as diabetes, can be treated directly with insulin and a balanced diet. Other problems, such as infertility, also have specific options that include hormone therapy, surgery, and fertility medications.
When should you see an Endocrinologist?
Knowing when to see an endocrinologist is tough. Some people don’t realize they are sick until the symptoms become severe, and others wait until their doctor refers them to a specialist. Some reasons you might need to see an endocrinologist include:
- Weight Gain
- Weight Loss
- Lack of Energy
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Brittle Bones
- Excessive Sweating
- Abnormal Blood Work
- Excessive Urination
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.