Endocrinology is the discipline (sub-specialty) of internal medicine that is focused on the endocrine glands (organs) of the body. You might think of it as looking at the many internal secretions of chemicals (hormones) that help you function normally. An endocrinologist is a physician that first trains as an internist, then takes additional training (usually 2-3 years) to qualify for certification in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism by the respective oversight board.
An endocrinologist cares for patients with specific metabolic disturbances, not just a series of laboratory tests, scans, or biopsy reports. As a consultant to the patient and the referring physician or other health care professional, the endocrinologist must identify the most important medical concerns. It is vital that your health care team collaborate, as each professional has different roles, and ideally there should be a coordinated health care plan.
The most common adult endocrine disorders include both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome and thyroid conditions, such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and nodular goiters (enlarged thyroid glands).
Other organ systems your endocrinologist may assist with include, but are not limited to, the pituitary gland, reproductive organs (ovaries and testes), adrenals and metabolic bone disease, a common example being osteoporosis.
Most importantly, the physician–patient relationship should serve as the most important therapeutic process.