Endocrinology involves the study, diagnosis, and treatment of acute and chronic conditions related to the body’s hormones and the glands and organs which produce them. If you are being referred to our endocrinology clinic, you may be interested in the following endocrinology questions and answers related to this important medical field.
1. What Are Endocrine Glands?
The endocrine glands comprise a system of bodily structures that secrete natural chemicals called hormones directly into the bloodstream for circulation throughout the body. The endocrine glands include the:
- The pineal gland is a tiny gland structure located in the brain responsible for regulating sleep/wake cycles
- The pituitary gland, or master gland of the body, helps regulate metabolism, growth, reproduction, and more
- Thyroid, which regulates metabolism and helps the body utilize key nutrients
- Pancreas is responsible for producing insulin and regulating blood sugar levels
- Thymus, which helps produce white blood cells
- Adrenal glands, twin structures located on the kidneys which regulate blood pressure and other physiological functions
- Ovaries, which produce estrogen and progesterone
- Testes, which produce testosterone
2. What Are the Most Frequently Seen Endocrine Conditions?
The most frequently seen and treated endocrine conditions are
- Diabetes mellitus–type 1 and 2
- Gestational diabetes
- Late-onset type-1 diabetes
- Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s syndrome)
- Hyperthyroidism (Grave’s disease)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Acromegaly, or gigantism
3. What Are the Symptoms of Endocrine System Problems?
While any acute or chronic disease condition has many of its own peculiar signs and symptoms, there are some commonalities among endocrine system problems. These include:
- Persistent fatigue which goes beyond end-of-the-day tiredness
- Changes in weight and appetite–up or down
- Mood swings
- Hair loss
- Variations in blood cholesterol levels
Sadly, many reasons for endocrine problems can be largely unidentifiable, or idiopathic. Others may be related to pregnancy, poor lifestyle habits, stress, tumors, or injuries. It is the job of the endocrinologist to work with the patient to identify and accurately track symptoms and to develop strategies to regulate endocrine gland function whenever possible.
4. How Can I Know That My Diabetes Is Well-controlled?
Tracking your blood sugar throughout the day may not always tell you how well you are managing your type-1 or type-2 diabetes. Additionally, many developing symptoms can be silent for a long time, until complications, such as vision changes, develop.
As such, you should see your PCP or endocrinologist at least twice a year for a blood test to check your A1C. A1C is a measure of your average blood sugar over two to three months. If it’s above 8, then you and your doctor should strategize changes to your diet, medications, and exercise to bring that number to between 6 and 7.
5. How Can I Manage My Osteoporosis?
Fractures related to bone health fragility, or osteoporosis, are extremely common, especially among American women. The International Osteoporosis Foundation reports almost 9 million annual bone fractures related to osteoporosis every year.
So, doctors hear questions about osteoporosis management as patients try to maintain their bone health, mobility, and independence.
Medications such as bisphosphonates are helpful for medically qualified patients, along with:
- Limiting alcoholic beverages
- Stopping cigarette smoking
- Getting daily exercise, including walking and weight-bearing exercises
- Eating a diet rich in lean protein
- Supplementing the diet with vitamin D
Endocrinology Care at Upstate Medical University Department of Medicine
Our Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism remains at the forefront of research, diagnosis, and treatment of diabetes and other endocrine diseases and conditions. Our clinical practice is the Joslin Diabetes Center, which offers exceptional care for both children and adults and is nationally known for its excellence.