Experts in diabetes, hormones & more

Experts in diabetes, hormones & more

School science classes teach students about the 11 organ systems of the human body. One of them is the endocrine system, which is a collection of glands that produce hormones that control the way the body works.

The endocrine system is comprised of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries (females), and testicles (males). The system regulates metabolism, growth, development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, mood, and more.

Endocrinologists are specially trained to diagnose and treat diseases related to the glands. However,
the diseases often affect the body beyond the glands. Endocrinologists treat menopause, infertility, erectile dysfunction, thyroid diseases, and metabolic disorders. They also provide treatment for diabetes, osteoporosis, vitamin D deficiency, hypertension, and cholesterol disorders.

Diabetes is the most common disorder endocrinologists encounter. It is caused by decreased secretion of insulin, a hormonal product from the pancreas. Endocrinologists can help individuals manage their diabetes through medications, diet plans, and monitoring blood glucose levels.

According to the American Diabetes Association, most people with type 1 diabetes see an en­docrinologist, especially when they are first diagnosed. Many people with type 2 diabetes also may see an endocrinologist for their care.

Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease that endocrinologists help treat. Osteoporosis occurs when the bones become brittle, typically resulting from hormonal changes or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age. PCOS involves enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid, called follicles, located in each ovary. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. The symptoms can include infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne, and obesity.

Endocrinologists also help treat kidney disorders, as the kidneys secrete various hormones. The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys and secrete corticosteroids — steroids involved in stress responses, the immune system, inflammation, and more.

Endocrinologists also treat high blood pressure due to endocrine dysfunctions, such as adrenal gland tumors, and high cholesterol or lipid abnormalities associated with heart disease.