Endocrine Disorders- General Medicine/ Check Up

What are endocrine disorders?

The endocrine system regulates body functions by producing and secreting endocrine hormones. The endocrine system involves various glands and organs which play important roles in this process. Hormones, a form of chemical substances, control and regulate body’s activities. If there is any imbalance in hormone levels (either increased or decreased levels), it leads to endocrine disorders.

Which Speciality to Consult?

An endocrinologist i.e. a physician who has sepcialized in endoctine disorders is the doctor who needs to be consulted for treating endocrine disorders

What are the types of endocrine disorders?

Following are the types of endocrine disorders:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Acromegaly (Gigantism)
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Diabetes mellitus: It is the most common endocrine disorder. Type 1 diabetes occurs due to the destruction of pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs due to defective insulin secretion or due to extreme hepatic gluconeogenesis. Depending on the patient’s glucose levels, medications are prescribed.

Hyperthyroidism: When there is increased production of thyroid hormones from thyroid gland hyperthyroidism occurs. Grave’s disease causes hyperthyroidism. Patient may have symptoms such as sweating, nervousness, increased heart rate, and weight loss. Beta-blockers (Propranolol, atenolol or metoprolol), antithyroid medications (propylthiouracil or methimazole), and iodides are used in various combinations are recommended as a treatment option.

Hypothyroidism: When there is decreased production of thyroid hormones from thyroid gland hypothyroidism occurs. Patient may have symptoms such as dry skin, headache, cold intolerance, constipation, fatigue, depression, anorexia, and weight gain. Thyroid hormone replacement generally with tetraiodothyronine (T4) (levothyroxine) is recommended as a treatment option.

Cushing’s disease: This condition develops in people taking high doses of corticosteroid medicines. There is excess production of a pituitary gland hormone that leads to an overactive adrenal gland.

Acromegaly (Gigantism): This condition is related to alterations in the production of growth hormone. If the levels of growth hormone are too high, a child's bones and body parts might grow abnormally fast. If there is less production of growth hormone, a child’s growth would be affected.

Adrenal insufficiency:  In this condition cortisol and aldosterone levels are too low. Patient may have symptoms such as dehydration, fatigue, stomach upset, and skin changes.

Hypopituitarism: When the pituitary gland releases very little or no hormones at all, hypopituitarism develops. This condition may lead to severe hormonal changes in women such a way that they may stop getting periods.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a prominent cause of infertility. Excess production of androgens lead to PCOS by interfering with the development of eggs as well as the process of ovulation.

Overall treatment of endocrine disorders varies from patient to patient. Depending on the alterations in the hormone level, medicines are prescribed.



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About the Author:

Dr. Anand Lakhkar is a physician scientist from India. He completed his basic medical education from India and his postgraduate training in pharmacology from the United States. He has a MS degree in pharmacology from New York Medical College, a MS degree in Cancer/Neuro Pharmacology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College where he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Council Award for academic and research excellence.  His research area of expertise is in pulmonary hypertension, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular pharmacology.  He has multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at at prestigious conferences.