Health Blog

Endocrinologist: When to Visit and What to Expect?


Definition and Overview

The branch of medicine that deals with hormone-related diseases is known as Endocrinology. An Endocrinologist diagnoses and treats endocrinology diseases such as hormone problems and complications that tend to arise from them. Hormones facilitate regulation of metabolism, respiration, growth, reproduction, sensory perception, and movement. Hormonal imbalances are the underlying reason for a wide range of medical complications and conditions. Endocrinology focuses on both the hormones and the several glands and tissues that produce them.

The Endocrine System

The human endocrine system consists of several glands that release hormones in order to control numerous functions. When the hormones leave the glands, they enter the bloodstream and are transported to organs and tissues located in every part of the body.

Some of these glands are:-

  • Adrenal Glands: The adrenal or suprarenal glands are located on the top of each kidney. They are divided into two regions; the right one is triangular and the left one is crescent-shaped. The adrenal gland secretes corticosteroids (involved in stress responses, the immune system, and inflammation), catecholamines (involved in response to stress), aldosterone (that affects the kidney function), and androgens (affects the male sex hormones, including testosterone).
  • Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is located just above the brainstem and right below the thalamus. This gland activates and controls involuntary body functions like respiration, heart rate, appetite, sleep, temperature, and circadian cycles. It also serves as the link between the nervous system and the endocrine system via the attached pituitary gland.
  • Ovaries and Testicles: The ovaries are located on either side of the uterus in females. They secrete hormones called estrogen and progesterone. These hormones promote fertility, sexual development, and menstruation.The testicles are located in the scrotum, right below the penis in males. They secrete hormones called androgens, mainly testosterone. Androgens control puberty, sexual development, facial hair, sexual behavior, erectile function, and formation of sperm cells.
  • Pancreas: The pancreas is located in the abdomen region and acts as both an endocrine gland and as a digestive organ. It releases insulin (essential for carbs and fat metabolism in the body), Somatostatin (regulates the endocrine and nervous system function and controls the secretion of several hormones), Glucagon (a hormone responsible to raise the blood glucose levels when they fall too low), and Pancreatic polypeptide (helps control the secretion of substances made by the pancreas).

Who is an Endocrinologist?

Endocrinologists cover a lot of ground diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the adrenal glands, bone metabolism, pancreas, parathyroids, etc. An endocrinologist performs several endocrinology tests such as ACTH Stimulation Test, Bone Density Test, CRH Stimulation Test, etc in order to accurately determine the illness and prepares a treatment plan accordingly. They also have training and specialization to diagnose and treat endocrinology diseases such as hormone imbalances by helping to restore the normal balance of hormones in the body. The common diseases and disorders of the endocrine system that endocrinologists deal with are generally concerned with diabetes mellitus and thyroid disorders.

List of various endocrinology tests performed by these specialists include:-

  • 24 -Hour Urine Collection Test
  • ACTH Stimulation Test
  • Bone Density Test
  • CRH Stimulation Test
  • Dexamethasone Suppression Test
  • Fine-Needle Aspiration Biopsy
  • Five-Day Glucose Sensor Test (For Diabetes)
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Semen Analysis
  • Thyroid Scan
  • TSH Blood Test

When to Visit an Endocrinologist?

You may want to consider visiting an Endocrinologist if:-

  • You have been diagnosed with endocrinology diseases and are under medication or any other form of treatment.
  • You observe any mental or behavioral changes. Hormonal imbalances may increase your level of stress, deprive you of sleep, modify the appetite, all of which are depressive symptoms.
  • You suffer from other conditions like cancer in the glands.
  • You show certain signs of hormonal imbalance. The signs and symptoms may be very subtle or moderate and they can be associated with other diseases that are not related to the endocrine system, but you should get them checked anyway.
  • You have a family history of hormone-related problems. Genetics affects the production of hormones in various ways.

What are the Common Diseases Treated by an Endocrinologist?

  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 1
  • Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Precocious Puberty
  • Precocious Pseudopuberty
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Adrenal Crisis
  • Alcoholic Ketoacidosis
  • Diabetic Foot Infections
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Diabetic Ulcers Gigantism
  • Glucose Intolerance
  • Gynecomastia
  • Hashimoto Thyroiditis
  • Insulinoma
  • Iodine Deficiency
  • Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition
  • Subacute Thyroiditis
  • Substernal Thyroid Goiter
  • Thyroid Hormone Toxicity
  • Thyroid Nodule
  • Thyroid Storm
  • Thyroid-Associated Orbitopathy
  • Thyroxine-Binding Globulin Deficiency

If you are diagnosed with any of the above conditions, don’t think twice, search for “Best endocrinologist near me” and consult one.

What are the Common Procedures Done by an Endocrinologist?

  • Male Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Pituitary Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Radioactive Iodine Therapy
  • Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Female hormone replacement therapy
  • Percutaneous Ablation of the thyroid gland
  • Transgender hormone therapy
  • Bisphosphonate Therapy
  • Sex reassignment therapy
  • Pituitary Brachytherapy

Education and Training

To become a certified endocrinologist, a doctor must go through extensive training of five & a half years in M.B.B.S from a medical college. After graduation/M.B.B.S, a post-graduation degree in internal medicine for 3 years is necessary, which is followed by a super specialization degree in Endocrinology.