Endocrine disorders may involve production of too much or not enough of a specific hormone. For example, in hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland releases too much thyroid hormone. In patients with type 1 diabetes, pancreatic beta cells have been damaged and do not produce any insulin.
Hormones act on most cells and tissues throughout the body. Therefore, patients with endocrine disorders have many different symptoms and clinical problems. A man with hyperthyroidism may experience a rapid heart rate; a woman with a prolactin-secreting pituitary tumor may experience a halt in her menstrual periods or notice a breast discharge.
Our endocrinologists are skilled at recognizing the many different effects of hormones and at associating a patient’s symptoms with a specific hormone abnormality. Because endocrine dysfunction can have widespread effects, endocrine disorders are oftentimes best treated by a multi-specialty team. At The GW Medical Faculty Associates, endocrinologists work with cardiologists, surgeons, ophthalmologists, obstetricians, podiatrists, kidney doctors and many others in our multispecialty practice to provide comprehensive management of complex endocrine disorders.
The endocrinology team encourages full patient participation in treatment decisions. We believe that clinical management should make sense to our patients and meet their individual needs and priorities.
Hormones are small molecules that are released into the bloodstream by the glands of the endocrine system. Hormones include cortisol, thyroid hormones, insulin, testosterone, estrogen and many others. They act as messengers, delivering signals and commands that help to control growth and development, reproductive functions, metabolism, responses to stress, and electrolyte and fluid balance.