Primary care doctors typically provide precisely that: primary care. They provide day-to-day care, ongoing care, and coordinate any specialty care that a patient needs. Endocrinologists are one example of specialty care, focusing specifically on conditions related to the endocrine system.
What is the endocrine system?
Made up of a collection of glands that produce and secrete hormones, the endocrine system plays a significant role in your body. These glands control many functions, including respiration, metabolism, reproduction, sensory perception, movement, sexual development, and growth.
The primary glands in the endocrine system are:
This gland in the brain is responsible for the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland's activity. It controls body temperature, thirst and hunger, and is involved in sleep and emotional activity.
Located at the base of the brain, this pea-sized gland is called the "master gland." It is critically important for growth and development and the function of the other endocrine glands.
This gland is next to the thyroid gland and controls calcium levels in the body.
This large gland is behind the stomach and secretes digestive enzymes and produces insulin to control blood glucose levels.
This gland at the base of the neck produces and secretes hormones that regulate growth and development through the rate of metabolism.
These glands above the kidneys produce and secrete sex hormones and cortisol, the stress hormone.
This pea-sized cone-shaped mass of tissue in the brain produces melatonin, which affects sleep.
This female reproductive organ produces female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. They produce and release eggs at the mid-point of each menstrual cycle.
These male reproductive glands produce sperm and the male hormone, testosterone.
What do endocrinologists do?
Endocrinologists are licensed internal medicine doctors who complete nearly ten years of education and pass an additional certification exam. They can diagnose and manage diseases that affect the glands and the hormones that are part of the endocrine system.
Endocrinologists commonly treat the following conditions:
- Addison's disease
- Cushing's syndrome
- Thyroid disorders
- Parathyroid gland disorders
- Pituitary gland disorders
- Sex hormone disorders
Their goal is to restore hormone balance within the body's systems. Working with an endocrinologist or thyroid specialist should not replace your regular doctor. We recommend that you still visit your primary care physician for a routine checkup yearly. These providers should work together to provide the best care experience.
How do endocrinologists treat thyroid conditions?
The thyroid gland helps regulate the body's metabolism in the form of blood pressure, blood temperature, and heart rate. When your thyroid hormone production is off-balance, it affects virtually every system in the body. Undiagnosed thyroid disease puts patients at risk for other ailments, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.
The primary types of thyroid disease are:
- Hyperthyroidism – too much thyroid hormone
- Hypothyroidism – too little thyroid hormone
- Thyroid cancer
An endocrinologist helps patients with thyroid disease balance their thyroid hormone production by replacing or blocking thyroid hormones with medication. We recommend working with a proactive doctor who also looks at your diet and lifestyle in a comprehensive approach.
Before your appointment with an endocrinologist
Before you visit an endocrinologist, write down any symptoms you experience, including any significant stresses or recent changes in your life. Remember also to bring a list of all your medications, vitamins, and supplements.
It may be a good idea to come with some questions prepared to ask your endocrinologist or thyroid doctor, including:
- What caused my thyroid condition?
- What are my treatment options?
- How will you figure out my dose?
- How often will I need to take this medication?
- How do I take my medication?
- So, which drugs or food might interact with my medicine?
- What if I miss a dose?
- Can I switch to a different medication?
- What side effects might I experience?
- What changes should I make to my lifestyle?
- What health problems can hypothyroidism cause?
What makes Paloma Health thyroid doctors different
Paloma Health thyroid doctors always take a proactive approach to care and access the latest, most innovative treatments for thyroid conditions.
We make it easy to consult with a trusted thyroid doctor via smartphone or computer and get the thyroid medication you need without a doctor's referral. Patients report feeling heard and cared for in their first 30-minute comprehensive consultation with their Paloma Health thyroid doctor.
And no matter who you choose to care for your condition, we believe that you should be in partnership with your thyroid doctor for the best possible care experience.