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what is an endocrinologists

If you have ever been diagnosed or had struggles with medical issues relating to hormones, then you may have heard of the term endocrinologist. If you have heard the term, but have never had experience with an endocrinologist, then you may be wondering what on earth they are and what their job is.

You’re certainly not alone, many people that need to see an endocrinologist have never heard of this type of doctor and don’t know what they do. However, if you are suffering from a condition related to hormones, it’s very important that you know what an endocrinologist is and how they can help you.

That’s because if you are going to be treated for hormone related issues on the NHS, then chances are that you’re going to be referred to an endocrinologist who will attempt to diagnose and treat your condition. They can diagnose you, issue treatments, and provide you with guidance and advice as to your specific medical issue.

In this guide, we are going to cover what an endocrinologist is, what they do, how they can help you, and other important information about hormone conditions. By the end, you’ll have a good idea of what an endocrinologist is and whether you should be making an appointment to see one. With the help of our guide and an endocrinologist, you’ll be able to regain your health and gain more insight into your medical condition. You can start your recovery process by taking our quick 60 second hormone quiz to see if you might have a hormone imbalance.

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Endocrinologist Definition

Before we dive into the specifics, we want to go ahead and define endocrinologist. Though not everyone is able to understand some specific medical terms, the concept of an endocrinologist is fairly simple and one that almost anyone can understand.

An endocrinologist is a medical doctor that specializes in glands in the body and the hormones that those glands specialize in making. For this reason, an endocrinologist is a very important individual from a human health perspective. Hormones are crucially important in the human body and dictate many bodily functions that help to keep us healthy and functioning properly.

An endocrinologist will also deal with metabolism, which is the way that our body processes and breaks down food for the purpose of energy.

An endocrinologist is not limited to just working with children or adults. Most of the time, they will work with both adults and children. However, an endocrinologist can specialize in working with children and hormone issues. When endocrinologists specialize in working with children, they are often described as pediatric endocrinologists.

Endocrinologist Areas of Expertise

Since endocrinologists deal with hormones, their range of treatments can span many different conditions. Hormones affect nearly every area of the body, and when they are not in balance, they can cause a variety of health issues. Here are some of the most common areas that endocrinologists have to deal with in their everyday job and functions.

Adrenal Glands

Adrenal glands are glands that rest on top of the kidneys in the human body. These glands are responsible for the production of adrenaline. Because they regulate this hormone, they have a hand in regulating blood pressure, metabolism, stress response, and sex hormones.

When adrenal glands are out of balance or not functioning properly, it can create a bad situation for the individual. Many people suffer from conditions that affect this area of the body, and they must see an endocrinologist when they find out about these issues.

Bone Metabolism

Bone metabolism is another very common problem area for many individuals, especially in elderly adults. This includes conditions such as osteoporosis, which is an issue stemming from hormones, glands, and metabolism.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a condition that millions of people suffer from every year. Though it is very common, not many people know that it can actually be a symptom of a hormone imbalance or an adult-onset hormone condition. If you have a problem with cholesterol, you may need to see an endocrinologist.

Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is a crucially important part of the human body. It is the part of the brain that has a primary role in regulating temperature, hunger, and thirst. For that reason, it is essential that it be in working order. Without a properly-functioning hypothalamus, the body could be in great peril.

Conditions that affect the hypothalamus and its functionality can be treated by an endocrinologist, and they are not all that uncommon.

Pancreas

The pancreas is an area that is a problem for a lot of people. It makes insulin, and issues affecting the pancreas include things like diabetes. The pancreas is a very important area from an endocrine standpoint. Endocrinologists can treat hormone issues surrounding the pancreas.

Parathyroids

These are small glands in the neck that help to control the level of calcium in the blood. When out of balance, they can cause a number of health issues. Seeing an endocrinologist can help with these issues.

Pituitary Gland

Pituitary glands are important glands found in the brain. The purpose of this gland is to keep your hormones in balance. When there is an issue with the pituitary gland, it can cause issues all around the body. An endocrinologist can help with issues related to the pituitary gland.

Reproductive Glands

A very common issue when it comes to hormones is the glands that are responsible for reproduction and the relevant hormones for reproduction. For women, these are the ovaries. In men, this takes place in the testes. An endocrinologist can help to balance issues with these glands and this part of the endocrine system.

Thyroid

If you have ever had issues relating to hormones in the past, then you may have heard of issues with the thyroid. This is a gland in the neck that is responsible for controlling metabolism, energy, and brain development. When it is not in working order, it can have severe impacts on the body and quality of life. An endocrinologist is able to treat these issues.

Endocrinologist Training

If you need to see an endocrinologist, you may be wondering about what qualifications they have and what training an endocrinologist needs to go through in order to be certified to treat the medical issues that they treat. Endocrinologists are highly-trained and highly-qualified individuals that have to go through rigorous training and education before they can treat patients.

Endocrinologists are licensed, internal medicine doctors. To become an endocrinologist, they must complete a certification exam for their specialty. Endocrinologists typically go to college for 4 years, followed by 4 more years of medical school. After that, they must complete a residency at a hospital for 3 years. This is designed to help them get experience treating people with a variety of conditions and sets of circumstances. After that, they will spend another 2 or 3 years at a hospital training specifically for treating patients in endocrinology.

In total, endocrinologists will spend at least 10 years learning before they are completely done with training. So, you should have every confidence that any endocrinologist that treats you will be fully qualified to do the job correctly and well.

Where do Endocrinologists Work?

If you feel that you need to see an endocrinologist, then you may be wondering where you can find one and where you have to go to be seen by one. An endocrinologist can work ina  variety of different locations, but there are three that are most commonly found:

  • Private medical practices such as Balance My Hormones
  • A medical group with other kinds of doctors
  • Hospitals with an endocrinologist as staff or consultants

You can find more information about endrocrinologists at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

In addition, you can ask your primary care doctor for a referral to an endocrinologist that can help you with any issues that you are currently experiencing.

There are other endocrinologists out there that don’t currently work with patients. These professionals typically exist in an academic setting such as medical schools and universities. In these locations, they teach students how to become an endocrinologist and all the necessary information that they will need.

Endocrinologist in the UK and Diabetes

One of the most common health conditions that endocrinologists deal with on a daily basis is diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that affects millions of people a year, and endocrinologists are on the front lines of fighting the condition and the underlying causes from a hormone standpoint. Often this is an area that endrocinologists in the UK specialise in, and this is one of the primary reasons we would not use them when it comes to treating testosterone deficiencies, they are mainly ‘diabetes experts’, not testosterone experts.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or have suspicions, then you may be wondering if now is a good time to see an endocrinologist for diabetes. Here are some circumstances in which you might want to see an endocrinologist for diabetes:

  • You have just been diagnosed with diabetes and want to learn more about managing diabetes
  • You don’t know how to treat diabetes and you need guidance
  • You use a lot of shots for treatments or use an insulin pump in your treatments
  • Your diabetes is becoming more difficult to treat and manage or you are questioning the effectiveness of your diabetes treatment
  • You are having health complications with your diabetes and associated treatments

If you are experiencing any of these, then you should probably go see an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist can provide you with the guidance, advice, and knowledge that you need to address many of these issues and increase your quality of life if you are suffering from diabetes.

NHS Endocrinologists and why they not be right type of doctors to treat low testosterone.

Another very common condition that you would think an endocrinologist could help with would be for low testosterone.

Low testosterone is a condition that affects millions of men annually. While many people think of testosterone and the role it plays in sexual function, most don’t realize that testosterone is a hormone that is very important for proper bodily function.

The first step in addressing low testosterone is recognizing it when you see it. Here are some of the most common side effects of low testosterone. If you notice any of these or a combination of them, then it may be time to seek out the help of a professional endocrinologist that knows how to treat issues relating to hormones, including testosterone.

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Fatigue

Testosterone is the most important hormone in the body for males. When it is out of balance, many things in your body are going to be wrong. One of these is your energy level. If you are low on testosterone, one of the potential side effects is increased fatigue.

Sexual Function

Testosterone is an important hormone in terms of sex drive, libido, and sexual endurance. When testosterone is very low in men, it is going to have a clear impact on sexual function. This can not only cause physical issues but relationship and social issues as well. It is important to address this with the guidance of an endocrinologist or specialized testosterone doctor.

Muscle Mass

Testosterone contributes greatly to gaining and maintaining muscle mass. If you are having trouble gaining muscle mass or maintaining muscle mass, it could certainly be a side effect of low testosterone, though that is not always the case. You should consult with an endocrinologist about the loss of muscle mass and any other side effects that you are feeling.

Depression

Testosterone is not only important for men from a physical standpoint but from an emotional and mental one as well. It helps to balance our mood and personality. When it is out of balance or low, it can easily cause mental health issues and even contribute to depression.

What do we think about using Endrocrinologists to treat low testosterone?

Despite having all these symptoms an endocrinologist may dismiss them and leave you to suffer with low testosterone because it doesn’t fit their perfect text book case. They will often string you along for months if not years only to be told that they will not treat you.

We have seen cases of endocrinologists not understanding the true nature of testosterone deficiency and taking a one size fits all approach if  treatment is prescribed at all.  One recent report from a GP is truly shocking. This GP was co-managing a patient and was sent a letter from the endocrinologist to stop the patients testosterone therapy injections because after being on TRT for 3 months the patient had undetectable levels of gonadotropins (LH and FSH) and therefore was over-medicated and should stop the testosterone injections immediately. This type of ignorance from someone who is considered the “expert” in all things endocrinology is evidence to avoid their careless and thoughtless approach to TRT. This is why endocrinologists are the last profession you would want to treat you for Testosterone deficiency if you can avoid it.

Other Health Problems for Endocrinologists

Though low testosterone and diabetes are two of the most high-profile medical conditions that require the expertise of an endocrinologist, there are certainly others. These include low estrogen in women and other issues that relate to hormones. Any medical condition that is being brought on by out-of-balance hormones can be addressed by seeing an endocrinologist to give you guidance on treatments.

Take Hormone Quiz

References / Scientific Resources / Study Material

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/doctors/roles-doctors/medicine/endocrinology-and-diabetes

https://www.endocrinology.org/

https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/resources/paediatric-diabetes-endocrinology-sub-specialty

https://www.hormone.org/what-is-endocrinology

 

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About the Author: Mike Kocsis

Mike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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Last update: February 19th, 2021

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