St. Mary’s Physician Associates are proud to serve a wide range of endocrine disorders with endocrinology specialists for patients in the Northern Oklahoma area. The endocrine system consists of the body’s hormonal glands, which includes the thyroid and pancreas.
What is Endocrinology?
If the word ‘endocrine’ sounds unfamiliar to you, think diabetes or a thyroid problem. The endocrine system is what our bodies rely on to produce hormones that help us function from day to day.
The endocrine system is made up of six hormone-releasing glands:
- Hypothalamus: Links endocrine and nervous systems together.
- Pituitary gland: Receives signals from the hypothalamus, regulates growth and metabolism.
- Thyroid gland: Critical to development and regulates metabolism.
- Adrenal glands: Handles the body’s stress response.
- Pancreas: Regulates blood sugar by producing insulin and glucagon
- Gonads: For males, testes. For females, ovaries.
You probably already know that there are three main types of diabetes, but do you know the difference?
Type 1 diabetes is autoimmune, meaning the body’s immune system targets and attacks itself. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that are responsible for making insulin (beta cells). When the pancreas is unable to make enough insulin (or any at all), your blood sugar skyrockets. Thus, the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes usually occurs due to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance affects the way the body processes sugar. Either the pancreas isn’t making enough insulin, or the body resists the insulin it does produce, which in turn causes the body to develop type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when the body starts resisting insulin.
St. Mary’s Physician Associates can help guide you through your journey with diabetes, from understanding the disease to treating it.
There are several types of thyroid conditions:
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) occurs when the thyroid doesn’t release enough thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. When the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, heart rate, metabolism and body temperature are disrupted. Those with hypothyroidism may notice unexplained weight gain, fatigue and cold sensitivity.
Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid. It occurs when the thyroid releases too much of the thyroid hormones into the bloodstream, resulting in unexplained weight loss, irregular heartbeat and irritability.
Thyroid cancer may be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Some alarming symptoms may be a lump in the neck, enlarged lymph nodes or swelling. Sometimes, however, it causes no symptoms at all.
Goiter (enlarged thyroid) and thyroid nodules (lumps in the thyroid) are also cause for concern. Any known or suspected thyroid disorders should be discussed with a healthcare provider immediately.
Other Endocrinology Disorders We Treat
St. Mary’s also treats various other kinds of hormonal, metabolic, pituitary and adrenal disorders, such as:
Cushing syndrome is another way of saying “hypercortisolism.” Hypercortisolism is the overproduction of cortisol, the hormone used in the body’s stress response. Physical signs are a fatty hump on the back between the shoulders, a rounded, moon-like face and/or dark stretch marks. Hypercortisolism can also result in excess sweat, hunger, fatigue and high blood pressure, muscle weakness or muscle loss, acne, anxiety, depression and hair loss.
Acromegaly is a disorder that occurs when the pituitary gland overproduces growth hormone. It’s usually caused by the growth of a non-cancerous tumor, and results in enlargement of the face, hands and feet. Other symptoms can present as deepened voice, fatigue, enlarged organs, oily skin, erectile dysfunction and irregular menstruation.
Addison’s Disease is basically the opposite of Cushing’s Syndrome: hypocortisolism. When the body doesn’t release enough cortisol, it can be life threatening. When under stress with no cortisol production, the body goes into an ‘Addisonian’ crisis and blood pressure drops. Addison’s Disease may present as dehydration, fainting, fatigue, low blood pressure and blood sugar, weight loss and excess trips to the bathroom.
Endocrinology Disease Management and Treatment
St. Mary’s endocrinology department performs a variety of high-tech screenings, hormone replacement, and blood tests that can be used to diagnose and treat endocrine disorders. St. Mary’s endocrinologists may use one or more of the following to identify and manage endocrine conditions:
Ultrasound of the Thyroid
- Ultrasound technology uses sound waves to produce pictures of the thyroid gland and detect abnormalities.
- Ultrasound-guided biopsies use the sound wave imaging to remove tissue from the affected area for lab testing.
Radioactive Iodine Treatment (to treat thyroid cancer)
- Radioactive iodine dosing is used to kill cancer cells in the thyroid. This technique targets the thyroid with little to no effect on the rest of the body.
Long-term care for thyroid cancer and referrals to expert endocrine surgeons are available if needed.
Contact St. Mary’s Physician Associates for Endocrinology Services
The Endocrinologists at St. Mary’s Physician Associates provides endocrinology services for patients in the Northwest Oklahoma area. Check insurances accepted at St. Mary’s Physician Associates, what items to bring with you the day of appointment and new patient forms.