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Endocrinology

The Endocrinology Department cares for patients with hormone conditions. The endocrine system produces the hormones your body needs to work correctly. Glands in the endocrine system include the thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands, among others.

Conditions we treat

We diagnose, evaluate, and treat a number of hormone-related conditions. Many of these conditions are caused by the endocrine system producing too few, or too many, hormones. Some of the conditions we treat include:

  • Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormones your body needs to work properly. This affects the balance of water, sodium, and potassium in the body, and harms its ability to control blood pressure and react to stress.
  • Adrenal tumors are abnormal growths on the adrenal glands. Most are benign (non-cancerous), and are called adenomas. Malignant adrenal growths (cancers) are rare.
  • Cholesterol disorders include hyperlipidemia, and hypolipidemia. Cholesterol is essential for life, and is found in the body cells of all animals, including humans. Your body needs cholesterol to work properly. Hyperlipidemia means you have an unusually high level of fat (lipids) in your blood. This puts you at risk for many health problems, including heart attack and stroke. It is sometimes called high blood cholesterol. Hypolipidemia means you have an unusually low level of fat in your blood. It is sometimes called low blood cholesterol.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is an inherited disorder that is present at birth. It affects the adrenal glands, causing them to produce low levels of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone, and high levels of male sex hormones (androgens). There are two forms of CAH: non-classical (the most common and least severe), and classical. Non-classical CAH is one of the most common genetic disorders.
  • Conn's disease is a condition in which the adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone. It is frequently caused by a benign (non-cancerous) tumor of an adrenal gland.
  • Cushing's syndrome is a condition in which the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. It is frequently caused by a benign (non-cancerous) tumor of the pituitary gland.
  • Diabetes is a condition marked by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Over the last few decades, the condition has become relatively common in the United States with more than 18 million Americans living with diabetes—most often type 2. People can acquire diabetes at any age. Our Diabetes Program supports the full range of diabetes care, including dietary counseling, insulin pumps and a wide range of diabetes educational activities.
  • Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, which means that the thyroid gland produces more hormones than the body needs. It is caused by an autoimmune disorder, where the body's immune system destroys its own tissues.
  • Growth hormone disorder (acromegaly) is a condition in which the pituitary gland secretes growth hormone after the normal growth of the skeleton and other organs is complete. In almost all cases, it is caused by a benign (non-cancerous) tumor of the pituitary gland.
  • Hyperparathyroidism (excess parathyroid hormones) in a condition in which one or more of the parathyroid glands makes too many hormones. This can lead to osteoporosis, or loss of bone density.
  • Hypopituitarism is a condition in which the pituitary gland is not producing one or more of its hormones, or is producing them at lower than normal levels. These hormones stimulate other endocrine glands to produce their hormones. For example, if the pituitary gland doesn't make thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), the thyroid gland doesn't work correctly. Hypopituitarism is a rare disorder.
  • Hyperthyroidism (excess thyroid hormones) is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces more hormones than the body needs.
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones) is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces fewer hormones than the body needs.
  • Male hypogonadism (low testosterone) is caused by a man's testes failing to produce normal levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone. Some men are born with hypogonadism, while others may develop the condition later in life. There are two kinds of male hypogonadism: primary hypogonadism, in which the testes do not work properly, and secondary hypogonadism, in which the testes are not being stimulated to produce hormones. This happens because of a problem with the pituitary or hypothalamus glands, such as a tumor.
  • Male infertility is a condition in which a problem with a man's reproductive systems is the reason why a couple is unable to become pregnant after having regular, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year. Infertility affects men and women equally. About half of infertility problems are caused by male infertility.
  • Metabolic syndrome is a condition that includes several disorders of the body's metabolism. Metabolism refers to how your body creates energy from the food you eat. Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance, obesity, and high levels of "bad" cholesterol in your blood. All of these conditions increase your risk of getting heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or having a stroke.
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) is the name of three rare, inherited disorders that cause extra tissue (hyperplasia) or adenomas (tumors) to grow on the endocrine glands. This can cause several endocrine glands to become overactive (produce too many hormones) at the same time. The three kinds of MEN are Type 1 (the most common), Type 2A, and Type 2B. The glands most often affected are the parathyroid, the pancreas, and the pituitary.
  • Osteoporosis is a condition in which more calcium from the bones is being lost than is being replaced. Healthy bone is a living tissue, made up mainly of calcium and protein. As such, bone is always gaining and losing cells. When bones lose too much calcium, they becomes less dense and can weaken. Weak bones tend to break more easily.
  • Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths on the pituitary gland. Most are benign (non-cancerous), and are called adenomas. Even though they are benign, such adenomas can cause significant symptoms if they produce excess pituitary hormones, or grow large enough to press on the brain or nearby nerves.
  • Prediabetes (hyperglycemia) is a condition in which a person's blood sugar (glucose) levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. A person with pre-diabetes is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, by making some lifestyle changes, a person with pre-diabetes can reduce his or her risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Thyroid nodules are lumps or growths on the thyroid gland. They are fairly common, especially among people over 50. In most cases, these growths are benign (non-cancerous), but about five percent of thyroid nodules may be malignant, or cancerous.

Glands that produce hormones

Many of the conditions listed above mention the following glands that produce hormones:

  • The pituitary gland is about the size of a pea, and is located at the base of the brain. It controls the production of hormones in all endocrine glands. The pituitary gland secretes hormones that regulate growth, sexual function, and the body's balance of fluids.
  • The adrenal glands are located on the top of your kidneys. They produce adrenaline, cortisol, aldosterone, and other steroid hormones that enable the body to respond to stress.
  • The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ found in the center of the neck, below the Adam's apple. It creates and stores hormones that control the body's heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism (how the body makes energy from food).
  • The parathyroid glands control the level of calcium in your blood. These four small glands are located in the neck, at the corners of the thyroid gland.
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