Endocrinology is a branch of medicine that deals with the functioning of the endocrine system and treatment of endocrine system diseases. Endocrinologists treat disorders of endocrine glands: thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands, gonads, hypothalamus or pituitary glands. They assess their functioning, diagnose pathologies and decide on treatment methods (most often it is pharmacotherapy, less often surgery). What symptoms should make you visit an endocrinologist?
Endocrine disorders, such as Hashimoto’s disease, are more and more often being recognised as lifestyle diseases. Thanks to the developing diagnostic procedures and growing awareness of such disorders, it is possible to diagnose them early and implement the treatment proposed by the endocrinologist.
when to visit a doctor?
Problems with hormones are sometimes difficult to diagnose, also because they are typical of many other conditions. It is often difficult to diagnose that a health problem is caused by the endocrine system failure. They are mistaken for cardiovascular and nervous system diseases, mental problems, or just fatigue and bad mood. However, there are a few symptoms that you should certainly pay attention to and see your endocrinologist. They include the following:
- sudden changes in body mass – both big losses and gains. If untreated, they can lead to obesity and the resulting health consequences;
- severe acne – especially after puberty. It includes not only purulent lesions, but also blackheads;
- excessive hair growth – especially on unusual parts of the body, for example a moustache in women;
- excessive sleepiness or irritability and lack of sleep – especially if circadian rhythm problems have not occurred before.
- other symptoms, such as hot flushes, swelling of the limbs, hair loss and alopecia (in both men and women), hyperhidrosis, unusually high libido or loss of libido.
In addition, in the case of women, such symptoms as galactorrhea, breast pain, menstrual disorders, problems with getting pregnant and unusual vaginal bleeding are important.
Endocrine disorders may also affect children. Then it is necessary to see a paediatric endocrinologist. You should visit a paediatric endocrinologist when the following symptoms occur: abnormal weight or height and premature or delayed puberty.
As you can see, the range of symptoms is really wide – that is why in such cases the GP usually refers the patient for specialist consultations, e.g. to an endocrinologist, to determine exactly the nature of the problem and implement the right treatment.
Endocrinologist Warsaw – what does the visit look like?
A visit to an endocrinologist involves primarily thorough history taking to obtain information about the symptoms. The doctor measures and weighs the patient and checks the condition of their skin and hair. Most frequently on this basis they decide what blood tests should be performed. The diagnosis depends on the results of these tests.
It is not very practical to perform the tests earlier, on your own, as there are many hormones and it is difficult to test them all. It is better to go to an endocrinologist and ask them to tell you which ones are worth checking.
In the majority of cases, an endocrinologist refers the patient for the following blood tests:
- CBC test,
- TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test,
- thyroid hormone (FT3 and FT4) test,
- thyroid antibody (anti-TPO) test,
- vitamin D3 test (in relation to the function of parathyroid glands).
The first visit to an endocrinologist does not require special preparations. For the next visit, the patient has to take the results of blood tests on the basis of which the specialist will give a diagnosis.
Endocrinologist – what diseases may be diagnosed by the doctor?
- thyroid diseases (hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goitre, tumours, inflammation, etc.),
- parathyroid gland diseases (hypoparathyroidism, hyperparathyroidism),
- pituitary gland diseases (tumours, hypopituitarism, hyperpituitarism, Cushing’s disease),
- adrenal gland diseases (hyperadrenalism, hypoadrenalism, tumours, Addison’s disease, etc.),
- pancreas diseases (tumours, diabetes),
- gonad diseases (PCOS, menstrual disorders and fertility disorders).
Endocrinologist – what about the follow-up?
Based on the tests results, the endocrinologist usually prescribes medication. The patient has to be aware that treatment of endocrine system diseases may involve taking medication on a permanent basis. Consequently, the cooperation between the endocrinologist and the GP is important. It happens that it is the GP who has to regularly give prescriptions for the medication prescribed by the endocrinologist. However, they should not decrease or increase the dose, prescribe new medications or tell the patient to stop taking the previous ones. For this purpose, the patient has to make an appointment with the endocrinologist.