Diabetes mellitus (diabetes) occurs when there is an excess of glucose in the blood. This is due to the body’s inability to make any (Type 1) or enough (Type 2) insulin. Diabetes is a chronic condition that can be effectively managed with a combination of oral medication and injected (insulin and non-insulin) therapies according to the type of diabetes and other health related conditions. If not treated, high blood glucose levels can, over time, damage the eyes, kidneys, and feet and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Medication-induced Diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes
The thyroid is a small gland that sits at the front of the neck. Thyroid hormones play an important role throughout the body and help regulate growth, energy expenditure, metabolism and reproduction.
Conditions that affect the thyroid gland include over activity (hyperthyroidism), under activity (hypothyroidism), enlargement (goitre) and nodules.
Osteoporosis refers to thinning of the bones which increases the risk of fracture. It is diagnosed with a DEXA (bone density scan). Exercise, calcium and Vitamin D supplements are important to optimise bone health. A number of medications to reduce bone loss and increase bone growth are available to treat osteoporosis.
The parathyroid glands (usually 4 in total) are located behind the thyroid gland in the neck. Their main function is to control calcium balance in the body. The most common condition to affect the parathyroid glands is overactivity (hyperparathyroidism) leading to hypercalcaemia. Elevated calcium levels may result in increased thirst and urination, digestive symptoms, kidney stones and osteoporosis.
The pituitary gland is considered to be the master gland. It is approximately the size of a pea and is found at the base of the brain. It secretes hormones that control the thyroid and adrenal glands, the ovaries and the testes, and water balance.
Benign tumours of the pituitary gland may lead to excess hormone production. As the gland is located near the eye nerves, growth of these tumours can affect vision.
Under activity of the gland may affect one or more hormones. Lack of anti-diuretic hormone leading to excessive thirst and urination was previously known as Diabetes Insipidus but has been renamed as Arginine Vasopressin Deficiency.
Hormones Australia provides a summary of the pituitary hormones and conditions that affect the pituitary gland
The adrenal glands sit above the kidneys. They produce hormones which control blood pressure (cortisol, aldosterone) and the stress response (cortisol) as well as the fight or flight response (adrenaline).
Conditions that affect the adrenal gland include:
- Addisons Disease (Adrenal insufficiency) leading to a lack of cortisol and aldosterone.
- Cushing’s Syndrome caused by cortisol excess.
- Conn’s Syndrome caused by aldosterone excess.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a complex hormonal disorder leading to menstrual irregularity, acne, excessive facial and body hair and reduced fertility. It may be associated with weight concerns and increases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It is important that the management of PCOS takes into consideration a women’s individual needs and overall health profile. This may be best achieved with a multi-disciplinary approach including Medical Specialists and Allied Health Professionals (dietician, exercise physiologist, psychologist).
Most women experience menopause between the ages of 45-55 years of age. Many women experience symptoms including hot flushes, sleep and mood disturbance, and vaginal dryness. The risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease increases after menopause. Managing the menopause often includes a combination of lifestyle measures and non-hormonal and menopausal hormone therapies.
Hormonal disorders may affect a man’s testosterone levels and / or fertility potential. Androgen (testosterone) deficiency may be due to disorders of either the pituitary gland or testes. In addition to the role of hormone replacement therapy, it is important that other lifestyle factors are taken into consideration when formulating a management plan.