Endocrinology and you
A survey of 150 people was conducted to gather information about what people know about endocrinology and the study found that people could identify endocrinology problems when endocrinology was removed from the problems, but only vaguely guessed what an endocrinologist is. Twenty five medical professionals were separately interviewed and their knowledge was greater but their recommendations for seeing an endocrinologist were still dismal. They saw endocrinologists as a specialist for the worst type of problems and even harder to get an appointment with. A quick internet search offered minimal access to endocrinologists. Upon a quick analysis of the Minnesota facilities the statistics say it averages about one endocrinologist to every 7 medical facilities of the 100 facilities. There are over 100 different scientific journals dedicated to just this subject, but not enough daily people to implement the studies.
Most people recognize diabetes, obesity, PMS, depression, and menopause, but most people, doctors included, do not know how to treat Gastroparesis, diverticulitis, or acromegaly. Most doctors recommend surgery or harmful drugs that mask symptoms. The system desperately needs people to take a fresh look at these issues and find a way to control the hormones that cause the trouble. A lot of the issues are hard to treat for an endocrinologist. In the journals dedicated to the growth of endocrinology they tend to come to a lot of revolving issues. To better explain this is to explain what endocrinology is: the branch of medicine and physiology concerned specifically with endocrine glands and hormones. A person who has fertility problems may also have depression, and the medication of either would affect the other and the results can get convoluted. A person with a lap-band or stomach shrinking surgery for obesity may undergo complete personality transformation. The observation of which hormones cause what is a very detailed science.
Unfortunately, millions suffer and will receive little or no treatment. There are just not enough people in the field to treat the ailing people. This is especially bizarre because people in the field have a higher job satisfaction and pay grades then that average neurosurgeon. The prosperity of this field needs to propagate this and get more people until it becomes common knowledge; the health of all people will benefit. The people, the medical professionals, and endocrinologists need to act; something needs to be done to get people working in the field. The health of every person can be improved by increasing the amount of endocrinologists and staff. Putting money and time into endocrinology is putting money and time into the future of humanity.
Endocrinology is very simple but very complicated at the same time. The simple explanation is an endocrinologist is person who deals with endocrine glands and hormones. The reason it is complicated is because every part of the human body runs fluidly because of these hormones. People are unable to digest food, grow, lose or gain weight, and even breathe. Hormones are microscopic transmitters of information from one gland to the next depending on the need. If a gland that sends hormones out is damaged or not functioning properly then an entire system reacts. Hormones are more famously known for causing people to get angry, sad or act odd, but they have a much greater function that requires a great deal of understanding. Most people will need to see an endocrinologist but very few of them will see one. At least 1 out of 3 people will have issues in the endocrine system.
A very popular movie by Disney called “Inside Out” accidentally describes how the hormones affect the system n an easy to understand way with the fun undertones of daily life. The main characters are “feelings” like Joy, Sadness, Anger, and so on. To better explain the importance, the glands would be the main characters like Joy and Fear. The hormones would be the messages or demands they send out from their control center. The main character in “Inside Out” loses some internal characters (Joy and sadness) and her whole perception changes drastically. This is the same way hormones operate; the microscopic entity inside of us can shut down organs, change personalities, and physically change the way we look to others. In the movie people just think the person who lost Joy and Sadness is moody; they misdiagnose her with other issues. The movie brings light to how important even the smallest parts of a person are. There is a wise saying “the greatest monster can be defeated by the smallest”. This is how the body works and most people are very unaware how important hormones are to every day functions.
The mystique of endocrinologists has not provided much in the way of convincing people to join the field. Most people have either not heard of endocrinologists or have had to wait weeks to get a quick meeting with an overloaded one that may not have the capabilities to give the patient the needed attention. Right at this moment the world is experiencing a crisis causing shortage of people who are willing and capable of working in the field. An even more startling reality is that more than half of people with endocrine issues will be misdiagnosed with a different problem and given treatment that may only mask symptoms. The complexity of the endocrine system is something that requires a lot of knowledge and unfortunately people have only recently started giving it credit.
What people don’t know can hurt them in this instance. There is less than 1 endocrinologist per hospital in Minnesota. Across the board there are only 5,800 endocrinologists in the entire country. It is a very advanced field and is changing every day. With the advancing technology there should be advancements in the staff to help, cure or treat the afflictions we learn about. The lack of endocrinologists is really a public health concern. The happiness and well being of millions of people depends on getting more people in the field, but how? The average length of schooling is 6 or more years and the general public is not interested in something that dedicated. The schooling system is an expensive system and causes a lifetime of debt. A possible option would be that maybe hospitals that need the endocrinologists will start footing some of the bill under the promise of a predetermined time of service to said hospital. If some hospitals start offering tuition assistance for promise of employment everyone wins. The hospitals could also start marketing the need for endocrinologists so people know what is needed and how important they are.
As discussed earlier, endocrinology is a study of the glands and hormones. What is not as clear with the explanation is how it affects the average person and what exactly happens. The major contributors to the endocrinology system are the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, and the sex organs. Hormones are transmitters of information from these different areas of the body. The hormones change what is needed. It is not necessarily that the hormones are at fault, but the entry point and the final destination of said hormones is usually where the problem arises.
To give an example we will discuss the thyroid gland which is a very common glandular affliction among people. It is a butterfly shaped gland in the throat region. For millions of people it has been causing obesity and weight problems. The news-media depicts an obesity epidemic, and in some cases it may not be something they control, it may be this thyroid gland. This gland secretes hormones that regulate metabolism. For some that means they will remain skinny no matter what they eat (Hyperthyroidism), for others that means they will gain weight no matter what they eat or if they exercise (Hypothyroidism). Even if there are no obvious weight effects, there can be emotional problems such as anxiety, depression and even heart problems. So, hormones are the transmitters and the glands are the responsible party. The endocrinologist can determine if diet, genetics or even cancer is the problem and treat appropriately. With the thyroid gland most people are prescribed medication and will take it for the rest of their lives. However, they will remain tired and often never be able to full fix the problem. Still their quality of life is much better than it would be if they left it alone. Some people may have a lower level of function problems and may never figure it out. They will just always wonder why they can’t lose weight. Weight is a big topic in endocrinology but it is not even a fraction of the problems people face.
There are glands all over the body that send signals to the body to be or act a certain way. There are even several medical professionals and scientists who will say that certain mental illnesses may have more to do with gland regulation then with the actual mental affliction. Certain forms of bipolar, depression, and anxieties have been “cured” by various medications to control the glands. A few severe anger issues have been resolved by fixing problems with the adrenal glands. Some people even report gaining intelligence by fixing issues with the pituitary gland. They have also noticed personality changes when stomach surgeries happen, so the hormones and glands can change a person greatly. As small as the glands seem they are like the “constructions workers” of the body. They regulate heart beat, growth, circulation and pretty much every microscopic aspect of the body. If something goes wrong in this area, a person needs to go to a doctor. When they go to a doctor, they generally prescribe something for the symptoms. Unfortunately, because of the wide range of symptoms a person who is always tired may have hypothyroidism but will be prescribed anti-depressants which will change the chemistry of other very important hormones in the brain. The brain is like the biggest gland and almost all of our movements are sent in electricity like cells that are identical to hormones. When the important hormones that interact with our brain to counter the effects of a different gland it may not help at all for that person and they may actually become depressed. Without the proper recognition tools people could suffer needlessly.
The problem and how to fix it
Endocrinology faces a lot of issues. There are a lot of problems to solve but fortunately there are a lot of ways to resolve this issue. Health can be restored to the people. To avoid people suffering needlessly, the hospitals, schools, educational systems, and all the medical staff together should probably step in and make a difference. There are several options to really make a difference.
The first and most immediate fix to the current situation is requiring the current doctorate staff be more educated in the endocrinology field. For example: doctors need to know how to test for the differences in hormones and what to do when the notice them. They need to be aware of the newest technological advances and have more equipment for the critical testing. If they could offer more blood tests to check hormone levels with people of anxiety or depression instead of sending them to psychologists there may be people who can live healthier lives. They may be able to treat certain Bi-polar episodes in a medical setting instead of having them in psychiatric ward. The start of this all is more blood testing for the over or under presence of hormones in certain areas because the presence of hormones the first indicator that a gland has trouble.
The second option for the hospital is to offer tuition assistance for potential endocrinologists. They could benefit from this with a tuition benefit for the promise to work for them for a certain amount of time. Everyone in the agreement would benefit from that because student loan debts are something that never goes away.
The first and most important thing that has to be done is to spread the word and educate people. People really need to know what they don’t know; it is in the best interest of all people. This author and most authors of all the endocrinology journals believe this is something that the entire community needs to involve themselves in. People need to know what an endocrinologist is and use all resources available to them. Media is generally the most effective in reaching a lot of people. The hospitals, medical professionals, and everyone else involved need to work together to spread awareness because this could save lives. This could save millions of people’s suffering. It is something that needs to be acted upon sooner than later.
Kevin W from Texas on September 28, 2016:
This is a very lucid and well written hub on endocrinology Karmallama on a great topic. Thumbs up on your hub.
Dreen Lucky (author) from St. Paul, minnesota on September 27, 2016:
you are of the few that make the correlation between diabetes and endocrinology. Glad to hear from you!
Also Lions44 Thank you very much!
Margarida Borges from Lyon, France on September 27, 2016:
I have diabetes so it was a subject that interested me. Thanks for such a complete and well written hub.
CJ Kelly from the PNW on September 27, 2016:
Important topic. Loved your passion for the subject matter. Sharing everywhere.