The study of the endocrine system is an important area of health care, because it improves the lives of patients living with glandular diseases. Doctors who specialize in glandular diseases dedicate several years of their career studying the endocrine system, and providing vital contributions to the field of endocrinology through research and development. Due to the variety of endocrine conditions, endocrinologists specialize in specific areas, providing focused care to patients who are experiencing specific types of glandular diseases.
An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions involving the endocrine glands, which produce secretions, such as hormones, that are released into the bloodstream. Endocrinologists often treat conditions that involve multiple systems within the body.
The endocrine system is composed of glands throughout the body, which produce hormones to regulate bodily activities including reproduction, growth, and metabolism. The glands of the body which make the endocrine system include the thyroid, parathyroid, hypothalamus, testes, ovaries, pituitary, and pancreas.
A medical student who wants to become an endocrinologist will often spend more than 10 years training before he can establish a practice of his own. After graduating from medical school, aspiring endocrinologists typically spend three to four years in an internship and residency program. Afterward, another two to three years are spent training specifically to diagnose and treat hormonal imbalances caused by particular endocrine conditions.
Types of Endocrinology
Some endocrinologists focus on all areas of endocrinology. However, some endocrinologists concentrate their efforts on one or two areas. The key areas within endocrinology include diabetes, thyroid, bone, reproduction/infertility, pituitary gland, growth, hypertension, and lipid disorders. Thus, patients suffering from hyperthyroidism, or over-activity of the thyroid gland, may need to be referred to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of diseases involving the thyroid gland.
Endocrinologists are trained to treat a wide variety of conditions involving the endocrine system, depending on their specific area of focus. Common conditions that endocrinologists treat include diabetes, thyroid diseases, metabolic disorders, over or under production of hormones, menopause, osteoporosis, hypertension, cholesterol disorders, infertility, lack of growth, and cancers of the endocrine glands. Additionally, endocrinologists conduct research to gain knowledge regarding the functions of the endocrine system, and endocrine diseases. Endocrinologists also conduct research to aid in the development of new drugs to treat diseases of the endocrine system.