Many functions of the human body are performed automatically without us even realizing it. For that reason, most people aren’t aware of a medical issue until their body stops functioning properly, such as glands suddenly producing too much or not enough hormones.
Hormones regulate metabolism, hunger, blood pressure, and other essential bodily functions. Your primary doctor may send you to see an endocrinologist if they suspect a hormone imbalance or a gland problem.
You may have to look outside your town for a specialist. For instance, an endocrinologist in Utah could be a few major cities away.
1. Thyroid Disease
The thyroid is one of the most important glands in the human body. Its main job is to regulate the thyroid, but it can affect other things, such as a person’s mood. The thyroid gland can overproduce or underproduce hormones, causing havoc in the body.
Typical thyroid diseases include Graves’ disease, Hashimoto's disease, and even cancer. It is often treated with medication and surgery, if necessary.
2. Low Testosterone
Even though it’s commonly considered a male sex hormone, both men and women produce testosterone. The male body relies on testosterone to regulate libido. It also affects a man’s muscle mass and sperm production.
Symptoms of low testosterone include fatigue, reduced sex drive, and hair loss. It can be treated with testosterone replacement therapy using pills or patches.
The CDC estimates that over 11% of Americans have diabetes, either diagnosed or undiagnosed. Diabetes is the most prevalent endocrine disorder in the United States. The disorder causes high blood sugar due to the pancreas not producing enough insulin hormone.
Researchers have yet to find a cure for diabetes, but it can be managed with proper care and switching to a healthier lifestyle. In some cases, the disorder can go into remission for years at a time.
Osteoporosis isn’t the same as osteoarthritis. The latter is joint pain due to the wear and tear of the joints. With osteoporosis, the bones become brittle and fracture easily. This is partly caused by decreasing levels of the hormones that affect bone density, such as estrogen in women. Lack of calcium can also lead to osteoporosis.
Older women are more at risk of developing the bone disease than men. Osteoporosis can be treated with vitamins, regular exercise, and other methods.
5. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects millions of women during their childbearing years. It's thought to be caused by hormone imbalance, including high levels of androgens, a group of male hormones. One symptom of PCOS is the lack of menstrual cycles, which can make it difficult for women to conceive.
Cysts on the ovaries can occur with the syndrome. PCOS is treated with medication to regulate the body’s hormones, including birth control pills (hormonal contraceptives.)
If you think you have an endocrine disorder, it’s important to see a specialist for help getting your hormones under control. An endocrinologist can diagnose the issue and create a treatment plan.