A quick search for an “endocrinologist near me” that takes Medicaid, Aetna insurance, Cigna, and what have you will present you with a list of doctors you can work with. However, you need to be better informed on what diseases an endocrinologist treats as well as why you would need to see an endocrinologist. It’s also important to have a good idea of what a specialist of this nature will do upon your first visit. Once each of these questions has been answered, you can then proceed to find a good endocrinologist.
Who is an Endocrinologist?
An endocrinologist is a doctor that focuses on glands as well as the hormones produced by these glands. A doctor in this field also specializes in the biochemical process that aids the proper functioning of the body. One of such process helps the body to convert food into energy which aids in growth.
On the other hand, there are endocrinologists that treat kids and they are known as pediatric endocrinologists. Other specialists in this field also treat adults. It is worth noting that these are internal medicine doctors who have a license and have undergone a certification exam.
What Do Endocrinologists Do?
The list of things endocrinologists do include treating conditions that impact on the following parts of the body:
- Bone metabolism such as osteoporosis
- Pancreas: Helps in making insulin and other substances to aid digestion
- Reproductive glands (gonads): Testes in men and ovaries in women
- Adrenals: Glands that are found on the kidney and help to regulate the blood pressure, control metabolism, sex hormones, amongst others.
- Hypothalamus: A part of the brain that regulates a person’s hunger, thirst, and body temperature.
- Parathyroids: Small glands in your neck that control the calcium in your blood
- Pituitary: A gland found at the base of the brain and responsible for hormone balance.
- Thyroid: A gland in the neck that controls the body’s energy, metabolism, as well as the growth of the brain.
How to Find a Good Endocrinologists Near You
Here’s how to find an endocrinologist near you by checking on the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website. There also hospitals near you that have these doctors. Asides from that, you can try the following:
1. Ask Your Primary Doctor for Recommendation:
Another doctor that has been in practice for years can recommend a good endocrinologist for you. And in this case, your primary doctor can do the recommendation. But first, you need to ask him/her if your condition requires that you see this type of specialist. Much more, they understand your condition better and would be in a better position to make recommendations.
2. Ask Friends and Family for Recommendation:
If you have a family member, close friend, or doctor who has had a visit to an endocrinologist doctor, you can ask for a recommendation. Either of these people will inform you on what to expect and the level of service that was offered.
3. Search Online
Training of Endocrinologists
For a person to become an endocrinologist, they may spend up to 10 years getting trained. Here’s a break down: First, they have to complete four years of college and spend another four years in medical school. They will then have to work for three years in a hospital as a resident. The latter will give them real-life experience in treating people. Finally, they’ll have to spend around two years or more getting training on endocrinology.
On the other hand, good knowledge of clinical chemistry, biochemistry, physiology of the endocrine system is needed to diagnose symptoms of diseases that need to be treated. The same applies to carrying out numerous laboratory tests just to detect the problem. There is also the requirement to gain practical experience in a licensed training center.
Before a doctor can specialize in treating diabetes, they need a great level of experience in the blood vessel, eye, and kidney diseases linked with diabetes. They also need training in diabetic foot care to wade off gangrene of the diabetic foot. Likewise, it is important to have training in managing even children, adolescents, and pregnant women. These doctors also have to undergo training for diabetic patients that will be operated on.
When to See an Endocrinologist for Diabetes
There are several reasons why you need to see an endocrinologist when you have diabetes. Some of these reasons are:
- You’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes and need to manage it the right way.
- Your primary doctor has limited experience in treating diabetes
- You rely on an insulin pump or take several shots to keep going.
- You have a heightened case of diabetes that makes it difficult to manage
- Complications have arisen due to the diabetic condition.
Accordingly, take the extra step and ask your endocrinologist when it is needful to see a diabetes doctor. You also need to ask your primary doctor so that they can collaborate with the diabetes doctor.
Appointments With Your Diabetes Doctor
When you visit your doctor, he/she will ask you certain questions. First and foremost, they’ll like to know how you’re feeling and coping with your diabetes. They’ll also want to know the discomfort you may be experiencing. What’s more, you can take the extra step to confide in your doctor in what has happened or changed since your last visit.
It could be helpful to reveal things such as symptoms you’re experiencing and if your eating habit has changed. Likewise, you can tell them if you’ve fallen ill of late, and if you can still cope with your exercise routines, if you’ve been doing them.
After each of these information has been revealed, your doctor may also want to test your blood pressure, urine, blood glucose, and well as cholesterol. That aside, it is recommended that you see a diabetes doctor three to four months after your last visit if you’re on insulin. And if you feel you need to go more often due to complications or more symptoms, then ask your doctor.
What Questions Should I Ask an Endocrinologist?
So, what questions should you ask endocrinologist especially if it’s your first visit? we’ve outlined some of these. First off, it is your right to seek answers before you’re treated and doctors would often give you about 15 minutes to do so. However, we understand that you may not really know what to ask your doctor. Needless to say, here are some questions that are important to ask. They include:
- What can I do if I fall ill?
- How long will these visits last?
- What is your level of experience with Type 1 diabetes?
- When do patients undergo a test for ketones?
- When do you have your patients test for ketones?
- Are the A1C tests carried out in your office?
- What can I expect my A1C score to be?
- What is the level of frequency for carrying out the A1C test?
- In case of an emergency at night, who can I reach out to?
- The number of times my blood sugar level will be tested daily?
- How are blood sugar levels 300 mg/dL or more treated?
- When can glucagon be recommended?
- When would you recommend glucagon?
- Is there a certified diabetes educator that can work with people with Type 1 diabetes?
- Do you have an experienced dietitian that works with Type 1 diabetes patients?
- Is there someone who takes insulin adjustment calls, and what are their hours?
Having these questions written down will help you prepare for an endocrinologist appointment.
More ways to prepare are:
- Get a copy of your diabetes lab test results and go with the most recent result to your appointment
- Inform your endocrinologist if you consult other doctors.
- Take a book with you to note down important things the doctor says, which will give you room to ask questions
- Prepare the questions you will ask ahead of time by writing them down.
- List down the symptoms you’ve experienced, irrespective of whether they are related to diabetes
- Note down the values of your blood sugar levels
- List down all the medications you’re taking as well as their dosages and times taken
- Write down the allergies you have from taking the drugs, if any.
- List the recent vaccinations you’ve had. For e.g have you had a vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, Tdap, and what have you.
- Note down the date you had your last dilated eye exam and foot exam.
- Write down your family history and how it may be related to your health challenge.
What Diseases Does an Endocrinologist Treat?
Some diseases endocrinologist treats include diabetes mellitus and thyroid disorders. Let’s take a closer look at each:
A medical condition commonly treated by endocrinologists is diabetes mellitus. This condition is caused by improper secretion of insulin hormones by the pancreas. As such, it leads to heightened blood sugar which could further damage internal organs of the body.
Accordingly, medications that reduce blood sugar are used to treat diabetes. Endocrinologists also resort to a proper diet to help patients suffering from this condition. The aim is to control the blood sugar which could reduce the potential for health problems in the future.
Thyroid disorders are also treated by endocrinologists. In this case, there could be an overactive thyroid known as hyperthyroidism. There is also hypothyroidism used to describe underactive thyroid.
Asides from diabetes and thyroid disorders, other diseases/disorders treated by an endocrinologist include
- Lack of growth
- Excessive growth
- Metabolic diseases
- Precocious puberty
- High blood pressure
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Hormonal unbalances
- High blood cholesterol
- Pediatric endocrine diseases
- Cancers of the endocrine glands
- Over- or underproduction of hormones
Organizations for Endocrinologists
If you’re trying to determine the level of qualification of your endocrinologist doctor, you can check some organizations they belong to. There are the American professional organizations for endocrinologists and some of these are:
- The Endocrine Society
- The American Thyroid Association
- The American Diabetes Association
- The Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society
- The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
In the United Kingdom, the professional organizations of endocrinologists are:
- European Thyroid association
- The Society for Endocrinology and the British Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
What Does an Endocrinologist do on the First Visit?
When you visit an endocrinologist for the first time, the following will be carried:
- Examination of your medical history
- Urine and blood tests
- Head to toe examination to ascertain your symptoms
- Test of blood sugar using a finger stick
- Height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, and other measurements.
- Your management plan explained
Over and above that, there will be an examination of your hands, feet, mouth, etc. to ensure each of these places has not developed an infection. An examination of your heart and lungs using a stethoscope will be carried out. And your stomach will be examined using hands.
It also follows that your doctor will want to know the medications you’re currently on, and what you may be doing to help with your condition. He/she may ask if you are on insulin and the frequency at which your blood sugar level is checked.
Finding an endocrinologist near you becomes an easy feat if you know where to look. Accordingly, get recommendations from your primary doctor, family/friend, colleague, and even make a search on Google. In line with that, it is important to go to appointments prepared, while also explaining how you feel. It can go a long way to improve your treatment.