Endocrinology is one of the most challenging medical specializations. This branch of medicine mainly focuses on the study of hormones and how it generally affects the human body. Hence, an endocrinologist is thoroughly concentrated on comprehending the molecular mechanisms that provoke hormones to take an effect on the human body. Apart from that, endocrinologists study the vital functions of each hormone. They must also be adept at the study of vital organs like the pancreas, thyroid, ovaries, testes, adrenal, and pituitary glands.
A gland is a cell, a group cells, or an organ that produces a secretion for use elsewhere in the body. This is a pretty general definition! To narrow it down a bit: an endocrine gland is an organ (such as the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary) which secretes hormones into the bloodstream. The ‘endo’ in endocrine means ‘internal’.
And hormones are substances which the glands send to other parts of the body to facilitate processes such as growth and metabolism. Hormones may be peptides (crudely put, components of proteins) or steroids.
Endocrinologists are medical specialists who research, diagnose, and treat disorders of the endocrine glands.
When should you contact an endocrinologist?
Most often these are hormonal disorders or nodules in the thyroid gland.
A person with thyroid nodules needs to speak to a qualified professional regarding the condition that he or she experiences. These nodules are normally not too obstructive but sometimes, they could grow significantly big that it could affect the breathing of a person. In some cases, other conditions could happen. Things like sudden weight loss, nervousness, and other risks could lead to various health risks. It is very important to check with a doctor your personal health condition to ensure that you can minimize these risks that could ultimately cause considerable damage and risks to the person. It is very important to find an experienced endocrinologist, such as Dr. Katz (Dr. Gillian Katz is an experienced endocrinologist from New York), in time to identify serious thyroid diseases and get the right treatment. An incorrect diagnosis can miss a cancerous tumor, it can threaten your life.
Normally, when you feel the nodules or when you find that it is too uncomfortable already, you talk to a doctor to have your nodules evaluated. Upon evaluation, the doctor can discuss with your options depending on your nodules. They would normally request that you undergo imaging services such as MRI and similar procedures. Depending on the results, the doctor will refer you to an expert called an endocrinologist. They specialize in endocrine disorders as well as risks like thyroid problems and other issues. When you get an appointment, be ready and prepare so that the endocrinologist can best get a holistic idea about your condition.
You should check if there are any restrictions before the endocrinologist checks your condition. You may be asked to fast or not to smoke, drink, or do any vices or drink any medications 24 hours or several days prior to the appointment. You have to write down all the possible symptoms that you feel and the changes that you experienced. In the last few days or weeks, did you experience a sudden loss of muscle power? Did you lose or gain appetite all of a sudden? Did you lose weight? Did you feel nervous all of a sudden? Do you have issues with swallowing and breathing? How long is the lump? Has it changed in size the last time you felt the lump? Anything that you experienced in the last few weeks or so, discuss it to the endocrinologist.
If you experienced any medical conditions in the last few months or years, you have to take note of your condition. It is vital that you tell the doctor if you had recent medical procedures, surgical operations as well as prescription medications that you have been using. If you have multiple health conditions, you need to discuss to your doctor what you experienced prior to the condition so that the doctor can adjust accordingly and provide the right diagnosis and other important aspects.
You should also tell the doctor if your family has a history of thyroid cancer or any thyroid conditions since this can give the doctor a comprehensive idea of what the actual condition may be as well as the possible risks or predisposition to cancer. Though the nodules are normally benign, it is possible that they could go malignant and cause damage to the person. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask the doctor. Being open about your health condition and your medical history are very important aspects to the proper diagnosis of the disease.
What examinations can I go through with an endocrinologist?
In assessing any lump on the neck, the goal of any doctor is to rule out the possibility that you have cancer. Aside from that, the doctor also wants to check if your thyroid gland is working well.
In a physical examination, several questions will be asked by the doctor to examine your thyroid gland. Then, the doctor will ask you to swallow while he or she feels the base of your neck. The thyroid gland will just move up or down when swallowing, whereas the nodule forms in other parts of the neck would not.
In function tests for the thyroid, this will measure the blood levels of the thyroxine as well as triiodothyronine. These are the hormones that are produced by the said gland as well as the thyroid-stimulating hormone which is actually released by the pituitary gland. These are indicators to check if the thyroid produces’ thyroxine too much or too little.
Another test used in ultrasonography. This is an imaging procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves instead of radiation in order to capture the images of the nodules on the neck. This can provide detailed information regarding the shape as well as the structure of the nodules. This procedure can also check for cysts since there are distinguishable differences between the cysts as the solid nodules.