An endocrinologist is a medical doctor with special training and skills in disorders that involve the endocrine system.
The endocrine system is a complex group of organs – called endocrine glands – that make hormones and pass them into the bloodstream. The glands in the endocrine system include the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, ovaries, testes and pancreas.
Hormones control many functions in our body including reproduction, metabolism, growth, sleep and development. When the normal balance of hormones in the body is upset for some reason, endocrinologists help to understand why and get the balance back.
Paediatric endocrinologists specialise in the hormonal problems that affect children, especially in relation to growth, diabetes and metabolism.
If your child has health or development concerns, health professionals like endocrinologists are there to care for your child and help you understand your child’s condition and treatment. With the support and expertise of these professionals, you can help your child thrive.
Why your child might see an endocrinologist
Your child might see an endocrinologist if it looks like she has a condition like type-1 diabetes, type-2 diabetes, a metabolic disorder, thyroid disease, changed hormone production or slow growth. She might also see an endocrinologist about bone disorders.
The endocrinologist will use blood tests of your child’s hormone levels to assess how well your child’s endocrine system is working. Treatment for problems of the endocrine system often involves medication, which can either increase or decrease hormone levels.
If your child has an endocrine disorder, he might need to see an endocrinologist regularly throughout life. This depends on your child’s condition – some conditions need long-term follow-up, whereas others can be sorted out in one or two appointments.
To see an endocrinologist, your child will need a referral from your GP. Your GP can help you find someone who’s right for your child.
Before going to an endocrinologist
Before seeing the endocrinologist, it’s a good idea to find out about the following things:
- Why you’re going to the specialist: talk with your GP about why your child needs to see an endocrinologist.
- Appointments: do you need to make the appointment or will the GP make it for you?
- Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the endocrinologist?
- Is there anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment – for example, can your child start some treatment or therapy?
- Cost: how much will the appointment with the endocrinologist cost? It might be expensive, so you could check whether you can get money back from Medicare or private health insurance or whether you can get some other kind of financial help..
- Location: find out where you have to go to see the endocrinologist – for example, a public or private hospital, or consulting rooms. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your child’s needs.
You can talk about these things and any other questions you have with your GP before you go to the endocrinologist. You could also ask the endocrinologist’s clinic when you make your appointment. It’s a good idea to write down your questions, so you don’t forget.