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April 30, 2021 • read
Endocrinologists: heroes for our hormone system
Sometimes when we’re experiencing unexpected symptoms that we can’t explain, it can be frustrating or make you feel helpless.
These symptoms can feel like a consequence of our daily habits or busy lifestyles, such as insomnia or a low sex drive. Others may come on without warning or noticeable triggers, like hot flashes or night sweats.
Although symptoms such as these may not seem connected, they can all be caused by the same system within our bodies – the endocrine system.
The endocrine system is the collective glands of our body that control and secrete hormones. These glands include the:
- Thyroid gland
- Parathyroid gland
- Pineal gland
- Adrenal gland
- Pituitary gland
As you can see, these glands are spread all across our bodies. The hormones they secrete have a wide range of impacts on our body’s normal functions. When our hormones are out of balance, it can have huge consequences on our lives.
What is an endocrinologist?
An endocrinologist is a physician whose area of expertise is our endocrine system and the diseases that affect these hormone-producing glands.
They have specialized training that allows them to recognize problems with the hormones in our bodies. Once they identify the source of the issue, they can provide solutions to help return your natural balance of hormones.
Signs you could have a hormone imbalance
Because there are so many different parts of our bodies that produce hormones, the signs and symptoms of a hormone imbalance can vary widely. The specific type of symptoms you’re experiencing will help an endocrinologist narrow down the cause of your issues.
Ideally, this will allow them to diagnose the cause of your hormone imbalance, so you can begin seeking treatment to reduce your negative symptoms. Some common symptoms and signs of a hormone imbalance include:
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Extreme weight fluctuations (gain or loss)
- Frequent urination
- Lowered sex drive
- Unexplained fatigue
- Muscle weakness or aches
- Stiffness, swelling, or pain in your joints
- Irregular heart rate (fast or slow)
- Increased thirst or hunger
- Hump of fat between the shoulders
- Thinning or brittle hair
- Puffy, rounded face
- Sensitivity to temperature fluctuations
What could these signs mean?
In some cases, these symptoms could be a sign that one or more of your hormones are out of their natural balance. It could either be high or low, depending on the direct cause.
Some of these symptoms are easy to overlook when they first appear. However, these may be a signal from your body that you have a condition that needs to be treated. That’s why it’s important to see a healthcare provider soon after these symptoms appear to determine if you need a referral to see an endocrinologist.
A variety of conditions and catalysts can cause hormone imbalances, including:
- Hypo- or hyperthyroidism
- Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules
- Diabetes (types 1 and 2)
- Diabetes insipidus
- Cushing syndrome
- Addison’s disease
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Menopause (and premature menopause)
- Certain medications, like birth control pills
Some of these catalysts are perfectly natural, like pregnancy or menopause. However, an endocrinologist may suggest you have additional testing performed before they can offer a proper diagnosis. That diagnosis will be your first step towards treatment and getting your hormone imbalance under control.
How do you prevent hormone imbalances?
Preventing hormone imbalances can be challenging because there are so many different glands that control our overall hormone health.
While some imbalances could result from an underlying condition, you can reduce your risk of experiencing hormone imbalances by making changes to your lifestyle.
Losing weight is a great place to start, especially if you’re overweight. This can help women keep their menstrual cycles more regular and increase the chances of pregnancy. It can also help men who are experiencing lowered sex drives or issues with sexual performance due to hormone imbalances.
Maintaining a healthy diet is also a great tool for helping your hormone levels stay stable. Not only is this important for your overall health, eating well provides all the essential nutrients our organs (and glands) need to function properly.
Additionally, avoiding known triggers for your symptoms can help you avoid flare-ups. For instance, you may find hot flashes occur more frequently when you’re exposed to extreme temperatures. If you avoid putting yourself in these scenarios, you can help minimize the appearance of your symptoms.
How do you treat these issues?
Depending on the diagnosed cause of your hormone imbalance, treatment options can be quite different.
The goal with any hormone treatment is to attempt to restore normal hormone level production to whichever gland is the source of your symptoms. The treatments they suggest could also vary from men to women, even if they’re experiencing similar symptoms.
Once the endocrinologist identifies the source of the symptoms, they could suggest treatments such as:
- Estrogen therapy, oral or sometimes intravaginal
- Anti-androgen medications
- Testosterone therapy
- Hormonal birth control
- Thyroid hormone therapy
- Certain medications (metformin, flibanserin, bremelanotide, eflornithine, etc.)
When should I see an endocrinologist?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms discussed in this article regularly or in any kind of severity, it’s a good idea to talk to an endocrinologist.
They have the expertise to arrange for proper testing to confirm a diagnosis, and the knowledge to arrange treatments once your condition is clear.
Can Maple help me manage these issues?
Yes, we can. An endocrinologist on Maple would be happy to discuss your condition with you.
Schedule a visit with an endocrinologist on our platform today, so you can start getting answers.
Hormone imbalances can have a huge impact on your daily life, and in many cases, won’t go away on their own. The sooner you determine the cause of your symptoms, the quicker we can get you back on the path to wellness.