Endocrinology is the study of medicine that relates to the endocrine system, which is the system that controls hormones. An endocrinologist will deal with diseases that are caused by problems with hormones.
What is the Endocrine System?
Understanding what an endocrinologist does begins with understanding what the endocrine system is. The endocrine system is a series of glands that produce and secrete hormones that the body uses for a wide range of functions. These control many different bodily functions, including:
- Sensory perception
- Sexual development
Hormones are produced by glands and sent into the bloodstream to the various tissues in the body. They send signals to those tissues to tell them what they are supposed to do. When the glands do not produce the right amount of hormones, diseases develop that can affect many aspects of life.
Types of Endocrine Diseases
Endocrinology is focused on the care and treatment of endocrine diseases. These fall into three categories, which are:
- Tumors: Tumors in the glands, whether cancerous or benign, can cause hormone balance problems.
- Gland hypersecretion: Occurs when a gland secretes too much of the hormone it is designed to create.
- Gland hyposecretion: Diseases caused when the body has a deficiency of a certain hormone due to the glands secreting too little of it.
In each of these situations, the result is a disease that impacts the body and its overall function and well-being.
The Role of the Endocrinologist
An endocrinologist is a doctor who has studied the endocrine system and its diseases. These doctors know how to diagnose the diseases of the endocrine glands, and also how to treat them. Because these doctors specialize in these conditions, which can be complex and have hard-to-spot symptoms, an endocrinologist is your best advocate when dealing with hormonal issues.
Most patients begin their journey to the endocrinologist with a trip to their primary care provider or family doctor. This doctor will run a series of tests to see what could be the potential problem the patient is facing. If a problem with the hormones is suspected, the primary care doctor will provide a referral. The endocrinologist's goal is to restore hormonal balance in the body.
Becoming an endocrinologist requires a minimum of 10 years of training. These specialists are highly sought-after for their understanding of these unique chemical messengers. If you are struggling with your hormones, this type of specialist is the doctor you want on your side.