What Are Endocrinology and Diabetology?
Endocrinology is a medical specialty that studies the work of the endocrine glands. These include the thyroid and parathyroid glands, pancreas, adrenal glands, gonads, thymus gland, pineal gland, and a complex hypothalamic-pituitary system. In recent years, the incidence of endocrine disorders has been growing due to people’s lifestyles, environmental pollution, increased life expectancy, and many other factors.
The symptoms of endocrine diseases are extremely diverse. Palpitation and irregular heartbeats, hyperhidrosis, hand tremors, headaches, weight gain, or loss can be signs of endocrine disorders. Therefore, their primary diagnosis is often made not by endocrinologists, but by other specialists: physicians, cardiologists, neurologists, etc.
In foreign countries, endocrinologists work closely with other specialized doctors because diseases are often accompanied by other problems and a variety of symptoms. Each specialist examines the patient and gives recommendations on further treatment and observes the person throughout the treatment course. Such an approach enables health care in developed countries to hold the bar high.
The Most Common Diseases
An endocrinologist is concerned with revealing the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the endocrine glands. The most common endocrine disorders include:
- Diabetes mellitus. It is a chronic disease associated with absolute insulin deficiency or insulin resistance. As a result, blood sugar increases, thus causing hyperglycemia, which affects vessels, eyes, kidneys, and other organs.
- Obesity is considered an epidemic of the 21st century. Overeating, diets with much calorie-rich food, and a sedentary lifestyle lead to excess fat deposits. Obesity declares itself not only through changing appearance, but also rapid fatigability, depressive disorders, cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis, and shortness of breath. Obesity often leads to type 2 diabetes, decreased immunity, and gastrointestinal diseases. In the vast majority of cases, obesity occurs due to an imbalance between calories consumed and burned. Secondary obesity (caused by another medical condition) occurs in less than 5% of all obesity cases.
- Osteoporosis is a systemic disease involving changes in the bone tissue structure induced by calcium depletion. Bones become fragile: people suffering from osteoporosis can get compound fractures even in minor everyday accidents. With age, the risk of osteoporosis grows.
- Thyrotoxicosis is a disease characterized by excessive thyroid hormone. This results in metabolic, nervous system, and circulatory disorders.
- Hyperthyroidism is caused by an underactive thyroid. Low levels of thyroid hormones lead to excess weight gain, bad mood, slow metabolism, and other symptoms.
Endocrine Diseases Treatment Methods
In endocrinology, treatment methods are aimed at relieving the symptoms or eliminating causes of the disease, as well as restoring the endocrine system functions. The problem lies in the fact that all the endocrine glands work together: dysfunction of one organ disrupts the work of all the others. Therefore, patients need combination therapy involving doctors of other specialties.
Surgeons are mostly engaged in the treatment of thyroid, pancreas, and adrenal disorders. Surgery is used for mass and fast-growing lesions and cancer or in cases of ineffective non-surgical treatment. Together with the endocrinologist in charge, the surgeon considers indications for the operation on occasion because not all conditions require such radical cure.
Hospitals in Israel, Germany, Austria, and Turkey offer non-surgical treatment for diabetes, thyroid and adrenal disorders, mineral metabolism disorders, etc. The focus is made on weight management and obesity treatment as these problems quickly cause complications to all body systems and prevent patients from an active lifestyle, which only aggravates the situation. There are effective strategies for losing excess weight and overcoming obesity-related diseases. In developed countries, all treatment programs are based on a complex approach and scientific proof and prepared for each patient individually.
Also, treatment abroad includes training in special schools for a specific disease. They help solve the following tasks:
- providing complete and true information on the disease, its possible complications, control and treatment methods;
- building the right attitude to the condition and a competent health assessment;
- self-control training, developing a diet suitable for a specific case;
- cultivating interest in exercise therapy, gymnastics, and other types of physical activity.
Rehabilitation begins after hospital treatment and may last for the rest of the patient’s life. This long-term work includes follow-up examinations by an endocrinologist and consultations with other specialized doctors, mandatory self-monitoring, and healthy living. In case of lack of hormones, the patient is prescribed hormone replacement therapy, which permits them to attain functional compensation and improve the quality of life.