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Endocrinology and Nutrition are medical specialties that study, prevent, diagnose and treat problems of the body’s endocrine glands (pancreas, adrenal, pituitary ...). Endocrinologists are the specialist that diagnose and treat diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, pituitary adenomas, growth and development problems and calcium metabolism disorders (such as hypertension or hypoparathyroidism), etc.
Endocrine-metabolic disorders are hormonal changes which cause important alteration to the blood sugar level, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Of all Endocrine Diseases, Diabetes is undoubtedly the most prevalent and the disease with the greater impact on the Portuguese population as far as morbidity, disability and premature death are concerned.
Following Diabetes, Dyslipidemia and Thyroid Dysfunctions are the most important endocrine-metabolic changes.
Patients suffering from endocrine and metabolic disorders mostly complain of loss of physical strength, fatigue, weight gain or loss, anxiety, depression, diarrhoea and anaemia.
The pancreas is a digestive gland which sits at the back of the abdomen in front of the spinal column and is responsible for the production of important digestive enzymes, necessary in the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates. One of the most important hormones secreted by the pancreas is insulin. Insulin is responsible for the absorption of glucose by cells of the human body. There is no cellular life without glucose. A lack of insulin or insufficient production thereof results in a blood sugar (glucose) level alteration which subsequently leads to diabetes, the most common symptoms being weight loss and asthenia (loss of strength).
Is an increase in the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. This silent dysfunction can begin at any age. When the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood begin to alter, these changes are not apparent. The most significant and harmful consequence is atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of fatty plaques in the blood vessels, leading to heart attacks and Strokes.
The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands of the body. It is located in the neck and protected by a cartilage, which in males is more pronounced and is called the "Adam's apple". Pathologies of the thyroid are very frequent and the treatment is not complicated, but early diagnosis is very important because, due to the gradual onset of these pathologies they can often go unnoticed. The function of the thyroid is to regulate the growth rate of our metabolism. This adjustment is made through the pituitary gland which is situated in the centre of the brain. It plays a key role in the development and normal growth of the organism, affecting virtually all body tissues. Over the years, the thyroid gland has been showing a decrease in its normal function, particularly in women.
The decreased function of the Thyroid is known as Hypothyroidism and causes symptoms such as swelling of the legs, hair loss or hair gain, anaemia, fatigue and brittle nails. Hyperthyroidism on the contrary is an increase of the normal function of the thyroid, causing such symptoms as heat, palpitation and insomnia which are often confused with the symptoms of menopause and anxiety.
Diseases of the Thyroid are very common, with nodular thyroid disease being one of the most common especially in women. A node is no more than a discrete lesion of the gland resulting from the abnormal growth of the thyroid cells. On the other hand, an increase of the total volume of the thyroid gland is known as goiter.
Besides Specialist Consultation in Endocrinology, there are also Specialist Consultations on Diabetes available at both the Alvor and the Gambelas Hospitals. Specialist Surgeons also integrate this team when the solution of an endocrine-metabolic disease necessarily involves surgery.