An endocrinologist diagnoses and treats hormone-related disorders such as diabetes and thyroid disease. Endocrine glands include the thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, ovaries/testicles, hypothalamus, pituitary glands and adrenal glands. Patients are often referred to endocrinologists because endocrine disorders are complicated. Endocrine disorders often affect different parts of the body and require a comprehensive understanding of how the hormone glands work.
Here are six reasons why you should see an endocrinologist rather than a primary care doctor.
Diabetes is the most common endocrine disorder in the U.S. It includes type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. People with diabetes must manage their blood sugar levels to control symptoms, which include thirst, fatigue and blurry vision.
2. Thyroid Disorder
The second most common endocrine disorder in the U.S. is thyroid disorders. The thyroid regulates your metabolism. It’s possible to have too much or too little of the thyroid hormone, leading to a wide range of symptoms like weight gain/loss, hair loss, anxiety, etc. Medications are typically used to balance out the thyroid hormones and relieve symptoms.
Osteoporosis refers to the thinning of the bones. As sex hormones decrease with age, it raises the risk for some people to develop osteoporosis. Genetics and medications also play a role in the development of osteoporosis. The main treatment is to strengthen the bones and decrease bone loss, which can be achieved with strength-building exercises and medication.
4. Low Testosterone
Low testosterone affects millions of American men. Though many people assume that low T is just troublesome in the younger years, it can also have negative effects for older adults. Low testosterone levels can cause symptoms like fatigue, depression, muscle weakness and hair loss. Hormone replacement therapy may be used to restore T levels.
5. Endocrine Gland Cancer
Endocrine gland cancers include thyroid cancer, parathyroid cancer, adrenal cancer and pituitary cancer. These cancers can affect hormone levels. Usually, people with these types of cancers will work with both an endocrinologist and an oncologist. The oncologist deals with the cancer treatment while the endocrinologist help balance hormone levels.
6. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens (male hormones) and insulin, which can lead to larger ovaries, irregular periods, metabolic problems and cysts. In the younger years, PCOS can make it difficult to get pregnant. As people get older, they may suffer more from the metabolic side effects, including weight gain and excessive hair growth.
If you have an endocrine disorder, it’s a good idea to add an endocrinologist to your healthcare team. This way, you can receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.