What Is Endocrinology?
Endocrinology is the study of hormones. Hormones are found in all living matter of more than one cell. They are chemical messengers that relay information back and forth between different cells and regions of the body, aiding in quick communication. Examples of hormones include:
- Adrenaline: This hormone triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response.
- Estrogen: This hormone regulates the menstrual cycle and reproductive functions in women.
- Insulin: This hormone regulates energy use and storage.
- Testosterone: This hormone regulates muscle and bone mass, sexual drive, and mood.
Hormones are produced and secreted by endocrine glands and organs involved in the endocrine system that include the:
- Adrenal gland
- Parathyroid gland
- Pineal gland
- Pituitary gland
- Thyroid gland
These glands and cells, as well as the immune system, can all play significant roles in bodily functions such as:
- Metabolism and energy
- Growth and development
- Sexual reproduction
- Sleep patterns
An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in helping individuals maintain hormonal balance and physiological performance. A malfunctioning endocrine system can contribute to health problems such as diabetes, lethargy, neurological conditions, and some forms of cancer, among other maladies.
What Can Endocrinologists Diagnose?
There are a few subfields within endocrinology, which include:
- Thyroid activity
- Diabetes, obesity, and metabolism
- Cancers related to hormones and the endocrine system
- Sexual development and reproductive health
Many conditions exist within each of these subfields, so endocrinologists are equipped to diagnose, treat, and help prevent a host of ailments:
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone, leading to hyperthyroidism. This hormonal imbalance can negatively affect organs such as the heart in addition to muscles and bones. Accompanying symptoms may include an enlarged thyroid gland, menstrual cycle disruptions, fatigue, anxiety, and bulging eyes.
Gynecomastia is the enlargement of male breasts and is caused mainly by imbalances in testosterone and estrogen hormone levels, though it can also occur as a byproduct of liver and thyroid diseases, kidney diseases, or conditions. This condition often self-corrects without treatment. Gynecomastia does not seem to affect health and is highly common throughout the world.
There are four types of thyroid cancer, which is irregular cell growth in the thyroid gland that sits at the base of the neck. This endocrine gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism, or how the body uses food and energy in addition to the body’s temperature. The most common form of thyroid cancer is papillary, highly treatable and slow-growing.
Diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s pancreas does not make enough insulin, the hormone that manages blood glucose, or sugar, levels. Without it, blood glucose levels remain dangerously high, and energy is not available for the body to use or store. Those with any type of diabetes need to maintain careful nutrition for long-term health.
Osteoporosis is a common condition that affects older adults. Over time, the body’s production of bone cells slows down, resulting in less bone mass. Patients with osteoporosis are more susceptible to fractures. Osteoporosis has few noticeable symptoms and often isn’t detected until the patient breaks a bone.
Often caused by a hormonal imbalance, infertility is categorized as when a couple cannot conceive after a year of actively trying. Fertility issues in males are often due to low testosterone levels. Infertility rates increase as men and women age.
The experienced and patient-focused endocrinologists at Bergen Medical Associates can diagnose and help treat or prevent many other hormonal conditions, as well as thyroid, metabolic, reproductive, and cholesterol disorders.
When Should You See an Endocrinologist?
Endocrinologists are experts at diagnosing a variety of diseases interconnected across many bodily systems and medical disciplines. However, there are certainly more common signs and symptoms individuals may experience that indicate it’s time to visit an endocrinologist. These symptoms can include:
- Unexplained anxiety or depression
- Sudden jittery or shaky feelings
- Unexpected weight loss or gain without diet or exercise changes
- New or increased hair growth
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Muscle weakness
- Sudden sensations of feeling cold or hot
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased sex drive
- Excessively dry skin
- Bone or joint pain
- Insomnia or overly tired
Some female patients can benefit from seeing an endocrinologist during menopause. Endocrinologists can also help diagnose underlying conditions that are causing symptoms such as hypertension.
Trust the Comprehensive Care From Bergen Medical Associates
The team at Bergen Medical Associates is here to provide convenient and comprehensive care to patients at locations across northern New Jersey. Our experienced providers and staff works closely with our other departments to ensure a complete range of diagnostic services and treatments. Board-certified endocrinology specialists at Bergen Medical Associates include Sandeep Kour, MD, and Janelle Yee, MD. To consult with a reputable and board-certified endocrinologist, request an appointment today or contact us for more information.