A hormone specialist treats patients with disorders related to malfunctions in the endocrine system. This interconnected network of organs and tissue produces and regulates hormones. Errors in hormone production may be congenital or acquired and can cause a variety of medical conditions that require specialized treatment. Also known as endocrinologists, hormone specialists work with people who have such disorders to determine their cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Patients typically see a hormone specialist by referral from another care provider. The patient may bring along a medical record with information on testing and procedures that have already been performed, to reduce the risk of repeating diagnostic studies. In an interview, the doctor can collect more information about the patient's condition, and may develop some recommendations for tests to collect data. This allows the doctor to formulate some theories about the case, and to work on the creation of a treatment plan.
Conditions like thyroid disorders, delayed puberty, infertility, and diabetes may require attention from a hormone specialist. Some patients require suppression to limit production or hormone supplementation to make up for compounds not produced by their bodies. Others may need treatment like surgery or medications to correct an imbalance. A patient with a thyroid disorder, for instance, may require a procedure to take the organ out, which could be followed with hormone therapy for life to replace the compounds the missing gland can no longer produce.
Hormone disorders can be complex and may require follow-up, potentially for life. If a condition is chronic, the hormone specialist works with the patient to control it effectively. This can necessitate regular follow-up visits to test levels and discuss symptoms. Patients who start to develop complications can receive early treatment if a hormone specialist spots the problem, and this can reduce the risk of experiencing irreversible medical problems like damage to internal organs caused by radically excessive or low hormone levels.
These care providers can work in hospitals or clinics. Some are part of larger medical practices and others may be independent. They may specialize in particular areas of study like pediatrics or the treatment of transgender patients, developing extensive skills in these areas to be able to offer more services to their clients. Hours tend to be regular, as hormone disorders are often caught before they become life threatening emergencies that would require immediate treatment in an emergency room or critical care setting.