Endocrinology is a medical specialty that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and managing endocrine, diabetes and metabolic disorders. The clinical endocrinologist with Endocrinology Associates of Dallas and Plano (EAD) are capable of treating endocrine disorders in both adults, and children. The endocrine system is comprised of a complex network of glands that produce and then release the hormones which regulate many vital bodily functions. Metabolism is the body’s biochemical process which consists of the breaking down of substances, such as food, in order to build up body tissues, such as bone, muscle, and fat. The endocrine system is involved in your body’s ability to convert calories into the energy that ultimately powers your organs and cells.
The clinical endocrinologist with Endocrine Associates of Dallas & Plano are members of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Subspecialty Board of Endocrinology, Diabetes, & Metabolism.
How Does the Endocrine System Work?
Every gland in the endocrine system is responsible for releasing specific hormones that travel through the bloodstream to other cells to help coordinate and/or control certain bodily processes.
- Hypothalamus: Gland located in the lower middle brain which influences the release of pituitary hormones.
- Pituitary gland: Gland located at the base of the brain (often referred to as the “master gland”) that influences several other glands (particularly the thyroid) and can affect bone growth, menstrual cycles, and breast milk production.
- Pineal gland: Small gland in the center of the brain that produces melatonin, affects sleep patterns, and regulates reproductive hormones.
- Thyroid: Butterfly shaped gland located in the front of the neck which controls growth, metabolism and affects blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate.
- Parathyroid: Grouping of four small glands located in the neck which regulate calcium and contribute to bone development.
- Thymus: Gland located in the chest which aids in early immune system development and shrinks after puberty.
- Ovaries: Female reproductive organs which produce sex hormones and release eggs. Testes: Male reproductive glands which produce sex hormones and sperm.
- Pancreas Islet cells: Cells located in the pancreas that control the release of insulin and glucagon, hormones that help balance blood sugar levels.
- Adrenal glands: Pair of glands located atop the kidneys that release the steroid hormone cortisol and adrenaline (epinephrine). These are known as stress hormones.
These endocrine glands maintain a delicate balance between the hormones and even the slightest change or problem in their release pattern can cause an endocrine disorder or disease.
Endocrine disorders can generally be classified into two categories:
- Disease resulting from a gland producing too much or too little of a specific hormone thus creating a hormone imbalance
- Disease resulting from the development of lesions (tumors or nodules) in the endocrine glands which can be benign (usually) or cancerous and may or may not affect hormone production
The endocrine feedback system controls hormone levels by signaling glands to correct any imbalances that may occur in the body. If the feedback system is unable to achieve appropriate hormone levels or if the body cannot properly clear hormones out of the bloodstream, an imbalance remains and the result can be an endocrine disorder.
Hormone production levels can also be affected by:
- Genetic disorders
- Infections or injury to a gland
- Chain reaction from one gland’s failure to stimulate hormone release in another gland
Endocrinologists specialize in the treatment of disorders caused by imbalances in the endocrine system. Endocrinologists have advanced training in internal medicine including all hormonal conditions and their treatments.
At Endocrine Associates of Dallas, we have nine board certified endocrinologists who have completed extensive education and training, each have completed 4 years of medical school, 1 year of internship, at least 2 years of residency in Internal Medicine, and a minimum of 2 years of fellowship (training) in the field of endocrinology. All physicians passed a board examination for certification in their field and passed a rigorous written examination demonstrating specialized skill and knowledge. Certification is conferred by the American Board of Internal Medicine Subspecialty Board of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Common conditions we treat at Endocrine Associates of Dallas include, but are not limited to:
- Thyroid disorders, such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
- Thyroid nodule and cancer
- Parathyroid disorders
- Osteoporosis/bone metabolism
- Adrenal disorders, such as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, Addison’s disease or other types of adrenal dysfunction
- Pituitary disorders, such as Cushing’s disease and hypopituitarism
- Abnormal growth and pubertal development in children
- Growth hormone deficiency or excess, such as acromegaly
- Hormone issues, such as imbalance in estrogen or testosterone levels
- Erectile dysfunction
Oftentimes, endocrinology can overlap into other medical specialties with patients who have certain conditions, and we work as a team with specialists in other fields of medicine, as well as their primary care doctor, in order to evaluate and treat patients in the most effective way possible.
Conditions which can fall into this category include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Abnormal cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels
- Kidney stones
- Female hirsutism (excessive body or facial hair)
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Testing for and Treating Endocrine Disorders
Because the endocrine system is so complex and affects numerous body functions, the symptoms of an endocrine disorder can greatly vary from patient to patient, depending on the gland involved.
If your doctor suspects that you have a problem with your endocrine system, diagnostic testing to identify the issue will likely involve blood and urine tests, and possible imaging tests (x-rays/CT/MRI) to check for tumors or nodules.
Other tests that may be administered, depending on the symptoms exhibited may include:
- Thyroid tests
- Diabetes tests
- Growth tests
- Bone tests
- Hormone stimulating and suppression tests
Seeing a specialist in endocrinology who is trained in all of the latest treatments and in recognizing unusual circumstances in relation to hormones is of great benefit to patients with hormonal disorders, as treatment of such conditions can be complicated. Hormone level adjustments can affect other glands and throw off the delicate balance within the endocrine system. Routine blood tests are often needed to monitor levels closely.
Your endocrinologist may ask questions that seem unrelated to your symptoms, however, hormones affect so many functions within the body that an imbalance can create a wide range of health problems. If your doctor has referred you to an endocrinologist, be mindful of anything abnormal happening with your body. Share these symptoms with your specialist, even if the symptom seems irrelevant. Learn more at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
At Endocrine Associates of Dallas, our goal is to provide our patients with an accurate diagnosis and offer high quality, cutting -edge treatments. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment for evaluation of an endocrine disorder, please contact our office for an appointment. Please have your physician referral available when you request an appointment. To reach our Dallas office, call us today at 214-363-5535 or to reach our Plano office, call us at 972-867-4658.