Endocrinology is the study of hormones secreted from your endocrine gland. A hormone is a chemical messenger from one cell or group of cells to another. Hormones are released in your body and can communicate and have an effect on other, sometimes distant, parts of your body. Endocrinologists treat people who suffer from hormonal imbalances, typically from glands in the endocrine system.
Endocrine diseases and diabetes affect every physiological system of the body. Patients with problems involving hormone-secreting endocrine glands present a wide array of symptoms, signs, syndromes and diseases, many of which are interrelated.
Our consultant endocrinologists are specially trained to diagnose hormonal diseases related to your glands and the overall goal of treatment is to restore the normal balance of hormones. The diseases they are trained to treat often affect other parts of the body beyond glands. This requires a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment.
Hormones influence or control a wide range of physiological activities, such as growth, development, puberty, level of alertness, bone growth, sugar regulation and appetite. Problems with hormones contribute to some major diseases such as: diabetes, thyroid disease, pituitary conditions, impotence and infertility, hypertension, metabolic and cholesterol disorders, osteoporosis and cancer of the endocrine glands.
Endocrine and metabolic diseases are some of the most commonly encountered in the UK population and are increasing in prevalence and impact.
Common endocrinology conditions we treat
Type 1 & 2 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in childhood. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means it results from the immune system mistakenly attacking insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. If you have type 1 diabetes your immune system will continue to attack the beta cells until your pancreas is incapable of producing insulin. You will therefore need to inject with insulin to compensate for the death of your beta cells.
Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in people over 30 year olds. It is characterised by your body losing its ability to respond to insulin, known as insulin resistance. The body compensates for the ineffectiveness of its insulin by producing more, but it can't always produce enough. Over time, the strain placed on the beta cells by this level of insulin production can destroy them, diminishing insulin production. If you have type 2 diabetes you may need to take insulin injections if you have a low sensitivity to insulin or if you have beta cell failure.
Thyroid disease occurs when the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in your neck, just above your collarbone, produces either too many or too few hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities related to your body’s metabolism such as how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats.
An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) means your thyroid gland is releasing too much thyroid hormone. This speeds up your body's metabolism, leading to symptoms such as shaking, weight loss and anxiety. If you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) your thyroid gland isn’t producing enough thyroid hormones for your body's needs. This slows down your metabolism, leading to symptoms such as feeling extremely tired and gaining weight.
Treatment aims to return your levels of thyroid hormones to normal. For hyperthyroidism anti-thyroid medicines, beta blockers, radioiodine treatment or surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid gland may be recommended. For hypothyroidism a hormone replacement medicine is often prescribed.
We offer a coordinated approach to expedite diagnosis and treatment of thyroid diseases including thyroid cancer.
General medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of diseases of the internal organs. Patients are often referred to a general medicine clinic if their symptoms or test results do not initially indicate that one specific problem exists or, if there are a number of separate conditions that need one consultant to look at together for an overview.
Within the field of endocrinology our general medicine service sees patients with chronic and complex conditions such as endocrine disorders and diabetes.
Obesity is a condition in which excess body fat affects your health. Being obese increases your risk of a number of health problems including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and some types of cancer. Obesity is highly associated with various endocrine abnormalities that are characterised by hormonal imbalance and/or resistance. Weight reduction generally normalises these hormonal imbalances.
We take a multidisciplinary approach towards preventing and treating obesity in children and adults. Our endocrinologists work closely with bariatric surgeons to approach obesity from both a medical and surgical perspective and provide a comprehensive weight loss program.
Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction (ET), is the frequent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual activity to take place. It is a common condition, especially in older men.
Treatment will depend on what’s causing the impotence. If there’s an underlying health condition, such as heart disease or diabetes this would be treated first. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight if needed through diet and exercise, smoking cessation, reducing alcohol consumption and stress may improve impotence. Medicines, the use of a vacuum erection device or surgery may be recommended. Psychological treatments including psychosexual counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are often used for impotence due to anxiety and depression.