UnityPoint Clinic Specialties | Diabetes and Endocrinology
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Diabetes and Endocrinology

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (DM), or diabetes, as it is more commonly known, is a metabolic disease where blood sugar levels are elevated for prolonged periods of time. Diabetes is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the body not responding properly to the insulin produce. Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination and increased thirst and hunger. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many serious complications. Long-term complications of the disease include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, foot ulcers and damage to the eyes.

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 DM: Occurs in about five percent of diabetes patients. The body does not produce enough insulin.
  • Type 2 DM: Is the most common form of diabetes. Unlike those with type 1 diabetes, the bodies of patients with type 2 can make insulin. However, their pancreas either does not make enough or the body cannot use it efficiently. This is also called insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes can be regulated and controlled with healthy diet, exercise and medication.
  • Gestational diabetes: Occurs when a pregnant woman without a prior history of diabetes develops high blood glucose. Typically is it only present during the course of the pregnancy.

What is Endocrinology?

Endocrinology is a branch of medicine dealing with the endocrine system, its diseases and functions and the hormones related to it. The endocrine system is a collection of glands that secrete hormones directly into the circulatory system. The major endocrine glands include the pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid, parathyroid, hypothalamus, gastrointestinal tract and adrenal glands. These glands control many hormonal functions of the body, including metabolism, growth and development, sleep, digestion, respiration, excretion, mood, stress, lactation and reproduction. Diabetes and thyroid disorders are the most common types of issues that endocrinology treats.

Signs and Symptoms

Because of the wide range of hormone issues that endocrinologists treat, symptoms may vary. Some general symptoms that may be a sign of a hormone disorder include:

  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Low libido
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety, depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Insomnia

What is an Endocrinologist?

An endocrinologist is a doctor of internal medicine who is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of hormone issues and disorders. They have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the endocrine system, which is comprised of glands in the body that secrete hormones throughout. An endocrinologist receives extensive training in hormone disorders and how to identify and treat them.

What Does an Endocrinologist Do?

Endocrinologists diagnose and treat hormone imbalances and problems in the body. The goal is to help restore the normal balance of hormones and function. They will perform a physical examination and do a comprehensive review of medical data and health history. Additionally, they will order additional tests and lab work as needed and interpret results. They can coordinate their care with other specialists, such as gynecologists, when dealing with reproductive issues that are related to hormone functions.

When to See an Endocrinologist

Your primary care provider may refer you to an endocrinologist if bloodwork and testing indicates you are experiencing hormone disorders and issues. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you may be referred as well. Your first appointment will typically include a comprehensive review of your medical history. Your primary care provider will arrange to have your health records available to the endocrinologist. Also helpful, is a detailed family medical history. Additionally, it is important to take the time beforehand to document all the symptoms you are experiencing so the doctor has the most complete information available to help you.

Endocrinologists help treat many types of hormone disorders. The most common ones include:

  • Menopause
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Lack of growth
  • Osteoporosis
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Cancers of the endocrine glands
  • Over-or under-production of hormones
  • Cholesterol disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Infertility

Benefits of UnityPoint Clinic Endocrinology

Our endocrinologists at UnityPoint Clinic are committed to working with you to diagnose, treat and help maintain and control your conditions to help you live a healthy life. Endocrinologists work with a care team and other providers as needed so your care is coordinated no matter if you're in the doctor's office, the hospital or at home.