Endocrine

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Endocrine Glands Release Hormones

Our endocrine glands release hormones into our bloodstream. The many types of glands in our systems include:

  • Adrenal
  • Thyroid
  • Parathyroid
  • Pituitary
  • Ovaries

Too few or too many hormones can result in serious health conditions. Some of these conditions are listed below.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a very common condition suffered by both children and adults. It happens when the body does not make or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to turn sugar, starches and other foods into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is not known, but the following may contribute to getting the condition:

  • Poor nutritional habits
  • Being overweight, especially around the waist
  • Lack of exercise
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • HDL cholesterol under 35
  • Diabetes during a previous pregnancy

African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans all have high rates of diabetes.


Types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes – the body does not make insulin

Type 2 diabetes – known as insulin resistance, which means that the body cannot properly use insulin

Gestational diabetes – pregnant women who have or have developed diabetes


Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be similar. Talk to your doctor if you experience:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with erections
  • Vaginal infections
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Skin infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

Diabetes Testing

One of the following blood tests can be used to diagnose diabetes.

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) test – a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dl is known as “pre-diabetes.” A fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher is considered diabetes.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGT) test – the glucose level is measured after fasting and two hours after drinking a glucose-rich beverage. If the two-hour blood glucose level is between 140 and 199 mg/dl “pre-diabetes” is diagnosed. If the two-hour blood glucose level is at 200 mg/dl or higher, diabetes is diagnosed.


Diabetes Treatment and Care

Lifestyle changes and medications, either separate or in combination, can help to manage diabetes.

  • Healthy diet, including vegetables, whole grains, fruits, non-fat dairy products, beans, and lean meats, poultry and fish
  • Exercise
  • Oral diabetes medications and insulin.

A doctor will recommend treatment based on the patient’s unique condition and needs.


Diabetes Education at St. Luke’s

Living Well with Diabetes is a diabetes self-management education program. Group classes are offered monthly and content includes nutrition, medications, monitoring, lab work and exercise. The program is recognized by the American Diabetes Association and is covered by most insurance companies. Individual appointments are available.

St. Luke's also offers counseling for patients with gestational diabetes and insulin pump therapy. A support group meets every other month.

For more information, please call 484-526-3025.


Gestational Diabetes Management Program

St. Luke’s Perinatal Centers offer a complete management program for pregnant women who have or have developed diabetes or for non-pregnant women with diabetes who are contemplating a pregnancy in the future. Working in cooperation with the patient’s obstetrician, the Perinatal Centers coordinate a consultation with a perinatologist, a teaching session with a diabetic nurse educator and a diet consultation with a registered dietician.

The staff at the Perinatal Centers will continue to closely monitor the pregnancy with periodic ultrasounds, regulation of insulin therapy if needed, and monitoring of the baby’s well being through the use of biophysical testing.


Pancreatic Disorders

A small, flat organ about six inches long, the pancreas is located below the liver between the stomach and the spine, and is connected to the first part of the small intestine. The main function of the pancreas is to help with both digestion and balancing glucose in the blood stream.

Common Pancreatic Conditions

Pancreatitis 

A severe pain in the upper abdomen that can be caused by any of the following:

  • Gallstones
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Kidney failure
  • Lupus
  • Infections
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Tumor

Symptoms also may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Fever
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Abdominal swelling

Studies have shown that women are one-and-a-half times more likely than men to have acute pancreatitis caused by gallstones. It has been shown that men are six times more likely than women to have acute pancreatitis caused by alcoholism.

Since these symptoms may be similar to other conditions, it is important to talk to your doctor, who may use one or more of the following ways to diagnose the condition:

Based on age, medical history, overall health and the extent of the condition, treatment options for pancreatitis may include:

  • Hospital stay with intravenous feeding
  • Surgery
  • Medications, including pain medication
  • Bed rest or limited activity
  • Limited or no food by mouth for a few days
  • Blood tests

Most people recover from pancreatitis without any issues. However, a small number of people will suffer from repeated attacks (chronic pancreatitis) and have a greater risk of developing long-term problems, such as diabetes, chronic pain, diarrhea or pancreatic cancer.


Pseudocysts of the Pancreas

A painful mass in the pancreas caused by an abnormal collection of fluid, dead tissue, enzymes and blood. This condition can develop after an attack of acute pancreatitis.

Symptoms of pseudocysts of the pancreas may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Mass in the abdomen
  • Jaundice in the skin and eyes

As with pancreatitis, these symptoms may be similar to other conditions, so it is best to consult your doctor for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor may use one or more of the following ways to diagnose the condition:

  • X-ray 
  • Blood tests 
  • Ultrasound 
  • CT Scan 
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): using an X-ray and endoscope, the doctor can diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and pancreas

Based on a number of factors, including age, medical history, overall health and the extent of the condition, treatment options for pseudocysts may include closely watching the rate of growth and treating with surgery, if necessary.


Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. Affecting both children and adults, the condition causes the body to produce thick mucus that:

  • clogs the lungs and causes life-threatening lung infections, and
  • blocks the pancreas from helping the body digest food

Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis include:

  • Coughing with phlegm
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Shortness of breath
  • Poor growth and/or weight gain
  • Abnormal bowel behavior

Tests for Cystic Fibrosis include:

  • Genetic carrier testing
  • Newborn screening

Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis include:

  • Clearing the airways
  • Inhaled medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Implanted devices for long-term medications
  • Proper nutrition