What does an endocrinologist do?


Quick Answer

Endocrinologists treat imbalances of the endocrine system, which includes the thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, pancreas, adrenal glands and pituitary gland. Typical conditions that endocrinologists treat include hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, Addison's disease, growth hormone deficiency, obesity and pituitary tumors.

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Full Answer

An endocrinologist specializes in the body's hormonal imbalances. This type of specialist completes at least seven years of medical school and postgraduate training, with board certification in internal medicine. Endocrinologists also study conditions specific to the endocrine system for an additional two to three years.

Hormonal imbalances can result from organs outside of the endocrine system, including the brain, heart and kidneys, so endocrinologists also treat physiological disorders such as poor metabolism, digestion or blood circulation. A primary-care physician can typically treat common or controlled hormonal disorders, so a referral to an endocrinologist is ordinarily reserved for severe or uncontrolled conditions.

Pediatric endocrinologists are a specialized subset of endocrinologists that treat hormonal imbalances in children. Hormonal levels in children and teens affect how they grow and mature, making it important that their doctor understands their specific needs. Endocrinologists with a pediatric specialty treat growth problems, early or delayed puberty, childhood diabetes, obesity, and other hormonal conditions, relying on medical education that includes at least three years of pediatric residency and three or more years of fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology.

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