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What do endocrinologists do exactly?


Deb M.
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Hi Everyone,

I see so many posts on endocrinologists lately... and it's funny to me that I was just told today by my doctor to make an appointment with one to see what they think is wrong, since no one else knows. :D

I have no idea what to expect from the endocrinologist. Am I gonna go there and just get stuck with needles? What happens during a normal appointment??

Thanks for any advice and info...

Deb

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Deb,

My first question is did you ask your doctor why you need to see one? Usually there is a hint something is amiss in endocrine system? Did some lab values come back screwy? Often times my endo knows more about female hormones than any OBGYN I saw over the years!!

Here is a short blurb on what an endo is...what he DOES during your appt depends on the specifics of an individual situation. Hope this helps. :D

What is an Endocrinologist?

First, let's take a look at endocrinologists. An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system. (The thyroid gland is part of that system, which also includes the neuroendocrine glands of the pancreas, the parathyroids, pituitary gland, ovaries, and the adrenal glands.) A typical M.D. will spend some time -- but not much -- during medical school studying thyroid gland physiology and the common disorders of the thyroid. Endocrinologists, by virtue of their continuing specialized education, are required to spend more time studying and focusing on thyroid issues. The main concentration of most endocrinologists, however, continues to be the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, and research into diabetes treatments and drugs. Many endocrinologists specialize in the treatment of diabetes, and only a small number of them consider themselves specialists in thyroid disease.

Endocrinology is a specialty that tends to be overly reliant on tests and numbers. Tests and results are often the main focus on endocrinology treatment. In particularly, the blood sugar levels of diabetes, and the TSH, T4, T3 and other various thyroid blood test levels, tend to drive the diagnostic and treatment protocols to a large part.

There are good endocrinologists who have excellent patient skills, and who work well in partnership with patients. You will need to be very careful to find the right endocrinologist, however, one who is patient-oriented, open-minded, up-to-date, and who has good bedside manner and people skills. This is not always an easy task. Frequently, patients have complained to me that they are viewed more as a lab value than as an actual person who is suffering with symptoms. This attitude can be a downside of going to endocrinologists, who are sometimes referred to as the "accountants of medicine," given their passion for the test and numbers and levels. Endocrinologists are also more likely to carefully follow the very conservative diagnosis and treatment protocols as outlined by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), and very few incorporate complementary or holistic approaches to diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease.

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deb-

here are some links that might be helpful. in know one is a kids' site, but it has good summarized info.

http://www.hormone.org/publications/what_is_endocr.html

http://www.hormone.org/endo101/index.html

http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body_.../endocrine.html

as for your appointment, i'm sure it varies widely, but i would expect a lot of discussion, a physical exam, & perhaps some bloodwork. i would think any additional testing would be at a later date.

a lot of endocrine-related disorders can cause symptoms very similar to POTS (&/or other autonomic problems) & others with autonomic issues have additional endocrine-related issues that can complicate things (but also open another avenue for possible treatment & thus improvement) so it's an avenue that is worth pursuing.

good luck,

:-)melissa

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