Most Common Endocrine Disorders
Diabetes mellitus is a condition that causes a carbohydrate metabolism disorder leading to the elevation of glucose level in the blood. Carbohydrate metabolism disorder occurs because of an insufficient amount of insulin. When the damaged pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, i.e. the absolute deficit of insulin it is called type I diabetes. When it produces an insufficient amount of insulin, a relative deficit of insulin is called type II diabetes. Genetic predisposition plays a critical role in the occurrence of both types of diabetes. But most commonly binge eating, and obesity determine the occurrence of type II diabetes. The main symptoms of diabetes mellitus include weight loss, poorly healing wounds, frequent urination, loss of capacity for work, feeling of tiredness, loss of sexual vigour, menstrual disorders, excessive thirsting, itching around genitals.
Thyroid Goitre is the most common endocrine disorder. It is characterised by an enlargement of the thyroid gland and hormone production can be normal or abnormal. There are two types of goitre. Diffuse goitre is where the whole gland is swollen and feels smooth to touch, and nodular goitre is where the gland feels lumpy to touch. There are many possible causes, including; hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), insufficient iodine in the diet, some medications, thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid), harmless cysts, radiotherapy for cancer and thyroid cancer itself. It can also be related to an increase in demand for thyroid hormones in certain periods of life such as adolescence or pregnancy. Symptoms can include coughing, a tight feeling in the throat, changes to the voice, difficulty swallowing and breathing. Other symptoms will depend on the underlying cause. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause, ranging from observation to radioiodine treatment or surgery.
Addison’s disease is a rare hormonal disorder which is caused when the adrenal glands do not make enough hormones. The adrenal glands produce several hormones including cortisol and aldosterone. These hormones have hundreds of functions in the body. The most important is to respond to stress. They also help control blood pressure and heart function, control the immune system, balance the effects of insulin and glucose regulation, and regulate metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Addison’s disease can be caused by autoimmune disorders, tuberculosis infection (TB), chronic fungal infections, cancer, surgical removal of adrenal glands, long term use of steroids, and pituitary gland disorders. Symptoms can be vague and difficult to diagnose; fatigue, muscle weakness, low mood, loss of appetite, weight loss, and increased thirst. It is important to treat Addison’s disease by replacing the missing hormones as without this, there is a risk of having an ‘adrenal crisis’ which is a medical emergency. Low blood pressure, low blood sugar and high levels of potassium in blood can occur which can be fatal if left untreated.
Acromegaly is a rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone. It is usually diagnosed in adults aged 30 to 50. If it starts before puberty, it is known as “gigantism”. It is usually caused by a non-cancerous tumour in the pituitary gland in the brain. There are a range of symptoms which usually develop slowly. Early symptoms include: swollen hands and feet (you might notice a change in ring or shoe size as an adult), tiredness and difficulty sleeping, facial features becoming larger, and numbness or weakness in hands. Late symptoms include: abnormally large hands and feet, large prominent facial features, skin changes, deepening of your voice, joint pain, weakness, headaches, blurred vision and changes in sexual function. Treatment to reduce growth hormone production and treat any other hormone abnormalities is usually successful. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to reduce the risk of developing complications like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and bowel cancer.
Pituitary dwarfism (microplasia) is an endocrine disorder characterised by decreased or interrupted body growth and irregular formation of the body due to the secretion of a decreased amount of growth hormone in the hypophysis. Growth hormones stimulate the development of bones, cartilage and soft tissues. The main symptoms of this disease include a delay in growth and development, muscle weakness, low height, mild obesity, skeleton abnormalities, and small internal organs. Pituitary dwarfism develops because of the lack of the growth hormone (due to labour traumas, nervous system infections, incest), dysplasia of the pituitary gland (congenital or developed after a surgery), and experienced brain trauma or tumours.