Endocrinologists: Doctors for Metabolic Disorders
Written by Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri Endocrinologist
Last updated on 19 August 2020
Endocrinologists treat a wide range of diseases like diabetes, thyroid disorders, osteoporosis, hormone imbalance, erectile dysfunction and gynecomastia. And it can overwhelm you as to what they actually do. Doesn’t it?
There are questions you don’t understand:
Why do endocrinologists treat diabetes? Why are they called diabetes specialists?
Why do endocrinologists treat osteoporosis?
Can an endocrinologist help with weight loss?
Can an endocrinologist treat erectile dysfunction?
What do endocrinologists do for hyperthyroidism?
We at MFine treat your health as our top priority. Let us break it down for you, everything about endocrinology, so you can make informed decisions concerning your health conditions.
Let’s start with the endocrine system.
The Endocrine System
Endocrinologists are experts in the endocrine system – it’s a network of glands (type of internal organs such as thyroid gland, pancreas, pituitary gland etc.) in your body that secretes chemicals called hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones are responsible for the functioning of almost every cell and organ in your body. Abnormalities in their levels can affect many functionalities including your weight and mood. You may have trouble conceiving, have weak bones, lack energy due to abnormal sugar or thyroid levels, develop breasts abnormally (gynecomastia in men), erectile dysfunction, etc.
Glands of the endocrine system
- Hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a small part of the brain. It connects the brain to the endocrine system with the help of the pituitary gland.
- Pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located inside your brain and is called the master of all glands. It controls the functioning of all other glands in your body, i.e., it receives commands from the hypothalamus and conveys the same to all other glands in your body what to do. It does so by releasing different chemicals (called hormones) that activate or deactivate the functioning of other glands.
- Pineal gland. It’s a small gland found deep inside your brain, very close to the pituitary gland. It secretes a hormone called melatonin that is responsible for sleep.
- Thyroid gland. It’s a butterfly-shaped organ located at the front of your neck. It produces T3 and T4 hormones. T3 and T4 hormones work together with TSH hormones in controlling your weight, body temperature, metabolism, muscle strength and nervous system.
While TSH is produced in the pituitary gland, T3 and T4 are produced in the thyroid gland.
TSH regulates the production of T3 and T4.
T3, in turn, regulates the production of TSH by signalling the pituitary gland to stop the production of TSH. That is called the negative feedback mechanism.
The thyroid gland also produces calcitonin; it helps incorporate calcium into the bones, strengthening our bones.
Malfunction in producing these hormones could lead to hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism or osteoporosis (brittle bones).
- Parathyroid gland. The parathyroid glands are located behind the thyroid gland. They play an essential role in your bone health.
- Thymus. The thymus gland is located in the chest between the lungs and behind the sternum (breastbone). The thymus makes white blood cells (called T Lymphocytes or T cells). They are responsible for a robust immune system that helps fight off infections.
- Adrenal gland. The adrenal glands are triangular-shaped organs located on top of both kidneys. The adrenal glands secrete the following hormones, namely:
- Cortisol: It controls the body’s use of carbs, proteins and fats. It regulates blood pressure, increases blood sugar and decreases bone formation. It’s released in times of stress that provides us with an energy boost to handle a crisis such as a threat.
- Aldosterone: They play a crucial role in regulating blood pH and blood pressure levels
- DHEA and Androgenic steroids: These are a part of the male hormones called androgens, but are present in tiny quantities. Most estrogens and androgens are produced in ovaries and testes, respectively. An imbalance of these hormones can lead to gynecomastia, i.e., the development of breasts in men, facial hair & strong muscles in women etc.
- Adrenaline and noradrenaline: They regulate heart rate, heart contractions, blood pressure, sugar metabolism, increase blood flow to the muscles and brain. They are also activated in stressful situations and help provide us with extra energy to endure the unusual strain. Abnormalities in adrenal hormones could lead to congenital adrenal hyperplasia, Addison’s disease, Cushing syndrome, hyperaldosteronism, pheochromocytoma, adrenal cancer etc.
- Pancreas. It is a leaf-like structure, about 6 inches long, situated just below your liver. It produces hormones insulin and glucagon that help regulate blood glucose (a form of sugar) levels. Our body uses glucose as a fuel and energy source to run the internal machinery of our bodies. But when there is excess glucose in our blood, insulin converts it into a bio-chemical compound called glycogen which is stored in the liver and muscles. Similarly, when we are starving, i.e., when energy is scarce in the blood, glucagon breaks down glycogen back to glucose to fuel our bodies.
Abnormalities in insulin and glucagon levels cause diabetes.
- Ovaries. Ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help develop breasts, regulate the menstrual cycle, control egg production and support pregnancy in women.
- Testes. Testes produce testosterone. These hormones help develop facial hair and penis, control sperm production and help build strong muscles in men.
Table of Contents
- When to Visit?
- Educational Qualification
- Finding a good endocrinologist
- Choosing the right endocrinologist
Who is an endocrinologist?
Endocrinologists are medical doctors who specialize in endocrine health. They are experts who deal with all health aspects related to the endocrine system. Typically, when a General Physician suspects that you may have a disease related to the endocrine system and require specialized care, they will refer you to an endocrinologist, who would provide you with the care you need.
What does an endocrinologist do?
Endocrinologists are endocrine health specialist doctors who deal with all health aspects related to the endocrine system, namely:
- Hormone imbalance
- Thyroid disorders
- Gynecomastia (development of breasts in men)
- Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Infertility etc
How often should you see an endocrinologist?
You need to see an endocrinologist if you find yourself suffering from diabetes, thyroid disorders, infertility, osteoporosis, gynecomastia, hormone imbalance, prolactin issues, erectile dysfunction etc.
What degrees do you need to be an endocrinologist?
Endocrinology is the branch of medicine dealing with the study of diseases and functions of the endocrine system. Endocrinologists in India have an MBBS degree, Masters/DNB in internal medicine and a DM in Endocrinology. Usually, MBBS is a five-year course while DM in Endocrinology is a 3-year, full-time postgraduate course.
How to find a good endocrinologist?
To find a good endocrinologist, speak to a family member or friend to refer you to a good endocrinologist. You could also search online for endocrine specialist doctors; Google does a great job of providing services closest to you, i.e., they’d connect you with an endocrinologist near you. Usually, there are ratings and reviews online for the quality of services provided to help you decide what’s best for you.
How to choose an endocrinologist?
Choosing the right endocrine specialist doctor is one of the most important and personal decisions you would make. Here are seven crucial tips to help you choose the right endocrinologist:
- Research. There are many endocrinologists out there. Decide upon the one you would be comfortable with; someone with a good reputation, communication and soft skills.
- Get the proper referrals. Speak with your family member, a General Physician, colleagues, friends to help you connect with the right endocrine expert.
- Check for licencing and credentials of the endocrinologists.
- Consider the years of experience of the doctor.
- Consider the gender of the doctor depending on if you would want to disclose your health condition to them.
- Consider the communication style of the endocrinologists. Choose a doctor you would gel along with quickly. Developing a rapport helps in communicating efficiently with the endocrinologist. If possible, read patient reviews to help you make the right decisions.
- It’s good to know if you would be covered under the insurance plan that you have.
At MFine, we treat your health as our top priority. Book an online appointment, and our specialists will get in touch with you shortly!
- Ask the doctor about your symptoms, problems, medications, and more during your consultation.
- You may have to submit your medical history and records if any, so the doctor can better understand your condition.
- Post teleconsultation, you could also follow up with your doctor online.
- Additionally, you can also buy medicines online and get lab tests done using the MFine app, all from the comfort of your home.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Endocrinologist Near Me
What will an endocrinologist do on the first visit?
On your first visit, the endocrinologist will want to know your medical history, including the history of hormone-related problems in the family and medications. He may also consult with your referring doctor and review your medical records and history.
How does an endocrinologist treat gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a common condition in healthy men, but young men don’t get it. Most of the time there is no underlying hormonal issue for the same. Its treatment includes the use of analgesia (pain killers) and surgery. The main reason for surgery is for cosmetic reasons. Non-surgical methods include the use of anti-estrogen drugs, but their efficacy as a satisfactory treatment for gynecomastia has not been proved yet. However, you need to consult with your doctor for the best possible treatment.
How does an endocrinologist treat thyroid disorders?
Your doctor may prescribe synthetic thyroid medications such as thyroxine for an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and beta-blockers and anti-thyroid drugs for an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism); these drugs help control anxiety and heart rate. Your doctor may also include radioactive iodine treatment to treat hyperthyroidism.
Endocrinologists and diabetes: What do endocrinologists do for diabetes?
The endocrinologist will check your medical history and medications. They will also check your blood pressure, blood glucose levels, urine sugars and cholesterol levels. They may prescribe additional medications to treat symptoms, such as when you feel light-headed or dizzy. If your sugar levels are high, they may prescribe insulin therapy and other medications to help manage your health condition. Additionally, they may also suggest a diet that you need to consume. Nevertheless, it’s best to consult with your doctor on the same. Please do not self diagnose.
What does a pediatric endocrinologist treat?
A pediatric endocrinologist treats children with endocrine system diseases such as diabetes, thyroid, and growth disorders.
When should a woman see an endocrinologist?
They need to see an endocrinologist if diagnosed with diabetes, thyroid disorders, period irregularities due to hormonal disorders or hormonal disorders alone or osteoporosis. Please consult with your general physician; they’ll be able to refer you to an endocrinologist if need be.
What kind of blood tests do endocrinologists prescribe?
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor will prescribe tests for blood sugar levels, complete blood count, kidney function test, liver function test, thyroid function test, cortisol levels test, ACTH level test, prolactin level test, testosterone level test. Additionally, they may also prescribe scans to check for abnormalities in endocrine glands.
Can my endocrinologist help me lose weight?
An endocrinologist can help you with weight-related problems caused by endocrine system disorders. They may prescribe medications to treat hormone abnormalities and will suggest lifestyle changes that you need to make which will help you get to normal weight. Nevertheless, you need to consult an endocrinologist for the best possible health outcome.
Does an endocrinologist treat hormone imbalance?
Yes. An endocrinologist can help treat hormone imbalance. They may prescribe medications to treat hormone abnormalities and will suggest lifestyle changes that you need to make. Nevertheless, you need to consult an endocrinologist for the best possible health outcome.
What does the pituitary gland control?
The pituitary gland is located inside your brain and is called the master of all glands. It controls the functioning of all other glands in your body, i.e., it receives commands from the hypothalamus and conveys the same to all other glands in your body what to do. It does so by releasing different chemicals (called hormones) that activate or deactivate the functioning of other glands.
Which gland is responsible for obesity?
Obesity has been associated with abnormalities in thyroid levels, i.e., hypothyroidism and also adrenal gland. However, you need to consult with your doctor on the same to rule out any other causes. Please do not self diagnose yourself.
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