Our approach to care
Our glands — including the pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid and pituitary gland — have an important job. They make chemicals called hormones, which control many processes throughout your body. If a gland makes too much (or not enough) of a certain hormone, it can disrupt these processes. You should call your doctor if you develop unusual symptoms, especially changes in normal bodily functions. These may include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Excess body hair
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger or thirst
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
Endocrine problems we treat
Expert care for endocrine disorders is available here in central Virginia. We diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, including:
- Adrenal gland problems such as Cushing syndrome and Addison’s disease
- Hypogonadism, including low testosterone
- Pituitary gland problems such as acromegaly and pituitary tumors
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Thyroid dysfunction, nodules and cancer
We also offer transgender medicine services, including gender-affirming hormone therapy.
Endocrine Problems and Cardiovascular Disease
Certain endocrine disorders, including diabetes and thyroid disease, increase your risk of heart problems. These include high blood pressure, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and coronary artery disease.
To that end, our endocrinology team works closely with cardiovascular specialists at the Centra Heart & Vascular Institute. This partnership ensures you receive complete care for your underlying condition and any heart problems it may cause.
Comprehensive care for endocrine disorders
Your care plan begins with an accurate diagnosis. Most patients undergo routine blood or urine tests to check their hormone or blood sugar levels.
Many people also need imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI. These let us look at the size and shape of a gland, and see if there is a tumor on the gland. And in some cases, we use bone density tests to screen for osteoporosis, a complication of several endocrine disorders.
Next, we’ll recommend the ideal treatment for your condition. We manage most endocrine problems with medication. These include drugs that prevent overactive glands from making extra hormones, and drugs that replace (or help your body produce) hormones that are missing or too low.
If you need more advanced treatment — such as surgery to remove a tumor or an entire gland — we’ll partner with a Centra specialist who can help.
Specialized Care for Diabetes
Our team has extensive experience helping people manage prediabetes, Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. We also provide counseling and education to women with Type 1 diabetes who want to start a family but are concerned about pregnancy risks.
No matter what type of diabetes you have, we’ll make sure you’re on the right medicine — and help you make the right lifestyle changes — so you stay as healthy as possible. Your care plan may include:
- Insulin therapy. If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it doesn’t use insulin the right way. You may need to take insulin every day in order to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Insulin can be injected or delivered through an insulin pump. Pumps can also be combined with continuous glucose monitors in a closed loop.
- Diabetes medications. Some people with diabetes take medications instead of (or in addition to) insulin. These include drugs that help the pancreas produce more insulin or improve your sensitivity to insulin.
- Glucose monitoring. Checking your blood glucose levels regularly helps you see if your blood sugar is too high or low. We’ll teach you how to use a portable glucose meter, which analyzes blood you collect from a finger prick. Or we’ll install a device called a continuous glucose monitor. You place a temporary sensor just under the skin, in your arm or belly. It checks your blood sugar level every few minutes and sends the information to a small, external monitor.
Expert care for thyroid disease
We care for many patients who have hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. We also evaluate and monitor lumps on the thyroid gland (thyroid nodules). That’s because some thyroid nodules are cancerous, while others produce extra thyroid hormone (which can cause hyperthyroidism). We offer several specialized tests and treatments for thyroid disorders, including:
- Thyroid ultrasound. We use ultrasound imaging to take pictures of the thyroid gland and any nodules growing on it.
- Thyroid scan and uptake. During this test, you consume (or we inject) a small, safe amount of radioactive iodine. We use a special camera to track how much of the iodine your thyroid gland absorbs. This helps us confirm whether your thyroid works properly.
- Fine needle aspiration biopsy. We use a needle to take a small amount of tissue from your thyroid. We look at the tissue under a microscope to see if it contains cancer cells.
- Radioactive iodine. During this treatment for hyperthyroidism or thyroid nodules, you take small amounts of radioactive iodine in capsule or liquid form. Over the course of two or three months, the iodine causes your thyroid gland or nodules to shrink (which slows down hormone production).
A team approach to treatment
Some people who have endocrine disorders also have other medical problems. For example, if you have Type 2 diabetes, you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure or coronary artery disease. And when left untreated, endocrine problems can lead to serious complications. These include bone fractures, kidney damage, nerve problems and infertility. Our endocrinology team works closely with other Centra specialists to help keep you as healthy as possible.