What is the endocrine system?
The endocrine system is a complex group of glands. Glands
are organs that make hormones. These are substances that help to control
activities in your body. Different types of hormones control reproduction,
metabolism (food burning and waste elimination), growth and development.
Hormones also control the way you respond to your surroundings, and they
help to provide the proper amount of energy and nutrition your body needs to
function. The glands that make up the endocrine system include the thyroid,
parathyroid, pancreas, ovaries, testes, adrenal, pituitary and hypothalamus.
What is an endocrinologist?:
An endocrinologist is a specially trained doctor.
Endocrinologists diagnose diseases that affect your glands and hormones.
They know how to treat conditions that are often complex and involve many
systems within your body.
What do endocrinologists do?
Endocrinologists are trained to diagnose and treat hormone disturbances by
helping to restore the normal balance of hormones in your system. They take
care of many conditions including:
What are the most common endocrine diseases and disorders?
Diabetes is a condition in which a person has a high blood
sugar (glucose) level, either because the body doesn't produce enough
insulin, or because body cells don't properly respond to the insulin that is
produced. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas (an endocrine gland
located below and behind the stomach). Insulin enables body cells to absorb
glucose, to turn into energy. If the body cells do not absorb the glucose,
the glucose accumulates in the blood (hyperglycemia), leading to vascular,
nerve, and other complications.
studies have found that controlling blood sugar helps prevent serious problems
that can be caused by diabetes. These can include problems with the eyes,
kidneys and nerves, which can lead to blindness, dialysis, or amputation.
Endocrinologists treat diabetes with diet and medications, including insulin.
They also work closely with patients to control blood sugar and monitor them to
prevent health problems.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that
is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid gland
produces thyroid hormone, which is secreted into the blood and then carried
to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone is essential to help each cell
in each tissue and organ to work right. For example, thyroid hormone helps
the body use energy, stay warm, and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and
other organs working as they should.
Patients with thyroid conditions often have problems with their energy
levels. They may also have problems with muscle strength, emotions, weight
control, and tolerating heat or cold. Endocrinologists treat patients with
too much or too little thyroid hormone (conditions respectively caused by
either an overactive or underactive thyroid). They help patients reach a
hormone balance by replacing or blocking thyroid hormone. Endocrinologists
also receive special training to manage patients with thyroid nodules or
thyroid cancer, and enlarged thyroid glands.
can diagnose and treat osteoporosis (brittle bones). Osteoporosis is a
disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not
prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a
bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in
the hip, spine, and wrist.
hormones act to protect bone tissue. When hormone levels are abnormal, bones
can lose calcium and weaken. Menopause, in women, and loss of testicle
function, in men, and aging may put you at risk for bone fractures.
Endocrinologists treat other disorders that can affect bones, such as too
much parathyroid hormone and long term use of steroids like prednisone.
Endocrinologists diagnose and treat hormone imbalances that
can cause infertility and reproductive problems. They work with patients who
need hormone replacement. Problems treated by endocrinologists specializing
in reproductive endocrinology include menopause symptoms, irregular periods,
polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premenstrual syndrome, and impotence.
pituitary is often called the master gland of the body because it controls
other glands. The pituitary makes several important hormones. Over - or
under - production of pituitary hormones can cause a hormone imbalance that
can lead to infertility, menstrual disorders, growth disorders (acromegaly
or short stature) and too much cortisol production (Cushing's syndrome).
Endocrinologists control these conditions with medications and refer
patients who need surgery.
The Adrenal Glands & Hypertension:
The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are the
triangular-shaped endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They are
chiefly responsible for releasing hormones through the synthesis of
cortisol, aldosterone, androgens, and adrenaline (epinephrine).
Hypertension is high blood pressure, and it is a risk factor for heart
disease, stroke, kidney and eye disease. Up to 10% of people have
hypertension because of too much aldosterone, a hormone produced in the
adrenal glands. About half of these cases are caused by growths that can be
removed with surgery. Conditions such as the metabolic syndrome or a rare
adrenal growth called a pheochromocytoma also may cause a hormone imbalance
that leads to hypertension. These conditions also can be treated
Patients with lipid disorders have trouble maintaining
normal levels of body fats. Lipid disorders include - high levels of total
cholesterol, high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol LDL (known
as "the bad cholesterol"), high levels of triglycerides, and low levels of
high-density lipoprotein HDL (known as "the good cholesterol"). Lipid
disorders are linked to heart (coronary) disease, strokes, and peripheral
vascular disease (problems with circulation in the legs).
Endocrinologists are trained to detect factors that may be related to lipid
disorders, such as hypothyroidism (a hormone imbalance caused by thyroid
conditions), drug use (such as steroids), genetic or metabolic conditions.
Lipid disorders can be found in several conditions that require special
management, including the metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome
(PCOS), and obesity. Special diets, exercise, and medications may be
prescribed to manage patients with lipid disorders.
Obesity and Overweight:
Endocrinologists treat patients who are overweight or obese,
sometimes because of metabolic and hormonal problems. When someone is obese
they have too much body fat. Thyroid, adrenal, ovarian, and pituitary
disorders can cause obesity. Endocrinologists also identify factors linked
to obesity, such as insulin resistance and some rare genetic problems.
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young
adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes,
the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to
convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.
Only 5-10% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. With the
help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with type
1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, happy
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.
Millions of people have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and many more
are unaware they are at high risk. Some groups have a higher risk for
developing type 2 diabetes than others.
In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the
cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to
use glucose for energy. When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the
sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in
the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When
glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead
to diabetes complications.
Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who
have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during pregnancy are said to have
gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant
We don't know what causes gestational diabetes, but we have some clues. The
placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the
baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother's
insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin
resistance makes it hard for the mother's body to use insulin. She may need
up to three times as much insulin.
Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all
the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot
leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to
high levels. This is called hyperglycemia.
How gestational diabetes can affect your baby:
1 - Type 1 Diabetes:
People with type 1 diabetes may have noticeable early
symptoms that often come on suddenly. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes may
2 - Type 2:
DiabetesType 2 diabetes may occur without any symptoms, or
symptoms may develop gradually. Type 2 diabetes symptoms may include:.
If you have these symptoms of diabetes, please see your
doctor for testing.
Here are 7 Tips for Preventing Diabetes:
Diabetes Diet and Weight Loss Tips:
Diabetes Center at Al Noor:
Please visit the Diabetes Care Center at Al Noor
Hospital-Khalifa Street, 8th Floor and Airport Road, Ground Floor.