Spotting the Signs and Symptoms of an Endocrine Disorder
Signs and symptoms of endocrine disorder are not easy to detect but if we take care, early diagnosis and treatment gives the best possible health outcomes going forward. Endocrine disorders are a lot more common than you might think. The body’s endocrine system controls and distributes hormones throughout your system. But estrogen and testosterone aren’t your only hormones. Other endocrine disorders, such as diabetes and thyroid disorders,are some of the most common health issues experienced by the Indian population.
Diabetes is caused by dysfunction in the endocrine glands of the pancreas. The hormone insulin acts like a key which lets glucose into the cells of the body. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin at all. In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin for the body to optimally function.
There are common symptoms to both types of diabetes but these tend to sudden and severe in Type 1 whereas Type 2 is slower and more insidious. The primary signs of diabetes are increased thirst and hunger, unintended weight loss, fatigue and frequent urination. You may also experience blurred vision, dry mouth, loss in concentration and itchy skin.
The development of type 1 diabetes can also bring on symptoms such as weight loss, nausea, vomiting and sweet smelling breath. Type 2 diabetes can also be accompanied by pain, tingling or numbness in the lower limbs, slow wound healing and frequent infections.
Testing can involve one or more blood test. A fasting plasma glucose tests measures blood sugar after eight hours fasting. A result of 126mg/dL on two separate tests suggests diabetes. This test can also be done without fasting and takes a result of 200mg/dL or more as an indicator of diabetes. Your doctor may also recommend a glycated haemoglobin test (HbA1c). This gives an average of your blood sugar levels over the last six to twelve weeks. A result of 6.5% or greater suggests diabetes.
Thinking About Your Thyroid
The thyroid gland is responsible for the metabolic rate and energy levels of your body. For a number of reasons, your thyroid can become underactive or overactive. These disorders are known as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism respectively.
Hypothyroidism causes your metabolism to slow down. This may manifest as fatigue, weakness, weight gain or inability to lose weight, dry skin, hair and nails, aches and pain in muscles and joints, constipation and an intolerance to the cold. You may also experience irritability, slower thinking, depression or memory loss.
Conversely, hyperthyroidism speeds up your metabolism. Common symptoms include hyperactivity, sudden weight loss, increased appetite, frequent bowel movements, excessive urination, greasy stools. Your moods may be more volatile or you might find yourself more anxious or irritable than usual. You may also experience goitre, a swelling of the neck caused by enlargement of the thyroid, sweating and increased sensitivity to heat, insomnia, muscle weakness and palpitations.
The following symptoms demand immediate medical attention so watch out for shortness of breath, dizziness, quick irregular heartbeat and loss of consciousness.
For both thyroid disorders, a blood test is used to measure levels of thyroxine and thyroid stimulating hormone. Low thyroid stimulating hormone and high thyroxine suggest hyperthyroidism, and vice versa. These results will be taken into account with your symptoms in order to make a diagnosis.
If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms of endocrine disorder, consult your doctor for further advice and assessment.