Northway Medical Centres offer consultations with trained and experienced endocrinologists on hormone disorders. Our specialists are qualified to perform hormone blood tests, thyroid ultrasound scans, make an accurate diagnosis of endocrine disorders and come up with individual treatment plans.
What does endocrinology cover?
Endocrinology is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnostics and treatment of endocrine system disorders. Endocrinology is related to many diseases and health disorders such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, infertility, obesity, etc.
What is the endocrine system?
The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce biologically active substances called hormones. The pituitary gland (or hypophysis cerebri) plays a crucial role in the body’s hormonal regulation. Other glands in the endocrine system include the thyroid, hypothalamus, pineal gland (located in the brain), thymus, adrenal glands, pancreas, testes, and ovaries.
Endocrine glands produce hormones and release them into the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Hormones are then carried by proteins to various tissues and organs in the body. Adequate hormone levels in the bloodstream are necessary for proper bodily function. Hormones regulate metabolism, growth, development, heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, the reproductive system, and functions of the central nervous system, among others.
When an endocrine gland produces an excess of hormones, it is called hyperfunction. On the other hand, a decrease in hormone production is referred to as hypofunction. Hormonal disorders can lead to various health conditions. For example, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insufficient insulin production can disrupt the transport of glucose into cells, leading to elevated blood sugar levels and the development of diabetes mellitus. Dysfunction of the pineal gland, which synthesizes the hormone melatonin responsible for regulating the biological clock (circadian rhythms), can cause sleep disturbances, loss of energy, and decreased work performance. Excessive production of androgens (male hormones) by the ovaries can result in the development of polycystic ovary syndrome, causing irregular periods, infertility, and other changes in the female body that impact daily life.
Hormonal imbalance is often associated with puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
When should you see an endocrinologist?
If you have noticed any of the following symptoms, it is advisable to seek a consultation with an endocrinologist: sudden weight loss, signs of obesity, symptoms of diabetes mellitus, irregular periods without a gynecological cause, hypersensitivity, irritability, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, chronic fatigue, increased or severe hair loss, or a change in neck circumference or shape.
An endocrinologist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the endocrine system, as well as nutrition and metabolic diseases, conditions, and complications. They provide consultations for endocrine system disorders, perform necessary tests including thyroid function tests, diagnose and treat diabetes mellitus (diabetes), goiter, Addison’s disease, and other conditions related to the adrenal glands and thyroid gland. Additionally, they offer guidance on preventing the onset or worsening of these diseases.
Thyroid dysfunction is one of the most common conditions, as stated by endocrinologists. It is important to note that thyroid diseases may not exhibit any symptoms in the early stages. Therefore, individuals aged 35 and over are recommended to undergo routine screening for thyroid dysfunction, including specific thyroid blood tests, every five years, even if they do not have any symptoms. If any family members have had thyroid disorders, especially thyroid cancer (malignant tumors), it is strongly advised to regularly check the thyroid due to the potential genetic inheritance. Pregnant women should also have their thyroid checked. Individuals with high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels are also recommended to have their thyroid gland evaluated. After conducting tests and confirming hormone imbalance, the endocrinologist will determine the underlying cause and propose the most effective treatment. Regular testing can help identify thyroid disorders early and prevent their progression.
What can I expect during a consultation with an endocrinologist?
If you suspect you have an endocrine disorder, the endocrinologist will conduct a comprehensive consultation, taking a detailed medical history, listening to your concerns, and ordering necessary blood tests. An ultrasound scan may also be required. After evaluating the results, the doctor will prescribe personalized treatment to rebalance hormone activity and improve overall health. The medical expert will also provide valuable recommendations on adjusting nutritional habits and lifestyle to maintain normal endocrine system function and address any questions or concerns the patient may have.
To assess if you have thyroid disorders, your doctor will perform a physical examination, consider your symptoms, review blood test results, and conduct any necessary imaging tests. An endocrinologist will palpate the thyroid gland and perform an ultrasound scan to evaluate the thyroid tissue and detect any potential abnormalities. Changes in the neck region may be observed during the examination. The doctor will also check for the presence of nodules, their location within the thyroid, their size, and assess the neck’s lymph nodes for enlargement. If any suspicious signs are detected, the doctor may recommend a thyroid puncture (biopsy) to confirm or rule out thyroid cancer. During a thyroid biopsy, a fine needle is inserted into the thyroid nodule under ultrasound guidance to extract a tissue sample. This sample will be analyzed in the laboratory to determine whether it is cancerous or benign. Thyroid biopsy is a safe, painless, and accurate method to diagnose malignant thyroid tumors at an early stage and determine the appropriate treatment before the disease progresses.
The endocrine system regulates vital functions and biological processes in the human body. Therefore, timely diagnosis of hormone disorders and appropriate treatment can significantly improve health, well-being, and overall quality of life.
What are the most common endocrine disorders?
Thyroid-related diseases are the most common conditions among patients seeking the expertise of an endocrinologist. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism in the human body. Approximately 30% of people in our country have developed thyroid disorders. Hormonal imbalance related to the thyroid develops gradually. Initially, you may not experience any symptoms, even though changes have already begun in the gland. If left untreated, thyroid conditions can lead to serious health problems over time. Therefore, it is crucial to not only maintain a healthy lifestyle but also undergo routine screening for thyroid dysfunction. Regular screening can help detect the onset of thyroid conditions and prevent further development.
Thyroid dysfunction can cause symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, frequent fatigue, rapid heartbeat, and insomnia. While thyroid dysfunction is more common in women, it can also affect men. Risk factors for thyroid diseases include age (the risk increases with age), iodine deficiency (or excess) in food, and exposure to ionizing radiation (depending on the dose and duration of exposure).
There are two main types of thyroid disease. The first type comprises disorders caused by inadequate hormone production, which is the main function of the thyroid gland. Insufficient hormone production leads to general weakness, slow thinking, easy fatigability, dry skin, hair loss, facial swelling (particularly around the eyes), leg swelling, loss of appetite, weight gain, irregular periods, sensitivity to cold, and a desire to keep warm. Excessive hormone production leads to insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, hyperactivity, sweating, thirst, muscle weakness, increased appetite, weight loss, sensitivity to heat, a strong desire to cool down, possible diarrhea, and changes in menstrual cycles. Both hormone deficiency and excess lead to poor health.
The second type involves changes that affect the thyroid tissue. Typically, these changes manifest as neck pain, particularly felt at night or when swallowing food. Changes affecting the thyroid can cause voice changes, difficulty breathing, coughing, and fever.
Goiter is the most common thyroid-related endocrine disorder. There are two types of goiters: diffuse goiter (enlargement of the entire thyroid gland) and nodular goiter (development of nodules in the thyroid tissue). Enlargement of the thyroid gland is the main symptom of goiter. There are three grades of thyroid enlargement. Grade 1 is characterized by a normal-sized thyroid gland with a visible nodule or lump only when tilting the head back. In grade 2, the lump is visible when the head is in a normal position. In grade 3, the lump is clearly visible. Goiter typically presents as a swollen neck, discomfort when swallowing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, hoarseness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, weight loss, and nervousness.
Treatment of endocrine disorders
Thyroid dysfunction is typically treated with medications. Hormone replacement therapy, in the form of thyroid hormone pills, is prescribed when the thyroid gland slows down and produces insufficient hormones (hypothyroidism). In cases of excessive hormone production (hyperthyroidism), treatment involves medications known as anti-thyroid drugs, which help reduce the production of excess hormones by the thyroid. When medical therapy is ineffective, hyperthyroidism may be treated with radioactive iodine or surgery, which involves the partial or complete removal of the thyroid gland responsible for the excessive hormone production.
If you have been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid or hormone deficiency (which can occur due to inflammation, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, or a part of it), you will need to take medication for the rest of your life. In the case of excess thyroid hormone levels detected through blood tests, your doctor may prescribe long-term therapy with anti-thyroid drugs. Over time, the doctor will gradually decrease the dosage until it reaches a minimal level or even discontinue the medication. However, if the disease recurs despite medical therapy, your doctor may recommend surgery or radioactive iodine treatment.
Northway Medical Centres offer consultations with trained and experienced endocrinologists who specialize in hormone disorders. Our specialists are qualified to conduct hormone blood tests, perform thyroid ultrasound scans, accurately diagnose endocrine disorders, and develop individualized treatment plans.
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- Klaipėda, Naujoji Uosto str. 9
Prof. BirutėŽILAITIENĖEndocrinologist, Andrologist
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- Vilnius, S. Žukausko g. 19
- Kaunas, Miško g. 25A