Endocrinology addresses thyroid health challenges

Dr. Divya Reddy Pati addresses thyroid health issues, endocrinology

by Divya Reddy Pati M.D.

You have probably heard the term thyroid, but are you aware of its significance and that it can involve health challenges? Thyroid issues are relatively commonplace and most cases are easily treated. An endocrinologist can best address thyroid problems and determine the best means of treatment.

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the neck. This vital gland produces the thyroid hormone that helps regulate the body’s metabolism.  

 Prevalence

Thyroid-related health challenges, such as thyroid nodules, are very common. Nodules can create too much thyroid hormone or no thyroid hormone at all. Most are benign, although a very small percentage can be cancerous.

What is a nodule?

A thyroid nodule is a growth or lump on the thyroid gland, and is usually discovered by a patient, in a routine physical exam or incidentally by imaging. There are usually no symptoms associated with a nodule, although a nodule that is large may sometimes cause a change in voice or difficulty swallowing or breathing.

What are the risks?

The risk of developing thyroid nodules increases with age. While most thyroid nodules are benign (non cancerous,) the prevalence of cancer is higher in children and adults younger than age 30 or over age 60. There is an increased cancer risk for individuals who have a family history of thyroid cancer, and for patients who have received radiation therapy of the head and neck.

Endocrinology

Endocrinology is the medical study and treatment of hormones and endocrine glands, like the thyroid gland. An endocrinologist is a physician who specializes in this area, and will order lab tests to determine if the nodule is hot (overproducing) or cold (not producing). An ultrasound is needed to further determine the type of nodule, and give the endocrinologist information needed to determine the most effective treatment plan.

Based on the type of nodule, a specific biopsy, guided by ultrasound, will be ordered to best identify the nodule.

Treatment

Treatment of thyroid nodules depends on the type of nodule.

If a biopsy shows a benign nodule, monitoring might be recommended every 6 to 12 months with a physical exam and/or a thyroid ultrasound.

Surgery is only recommended for nodules that are cancerous or suspected of being cancer. In the rare situation that nodules are large enough to cause problems with swallowing or breathing surgery might also be recommended.

Regular provider visits

Thyroid nodules should always be addressed. While most are not harmful, there is a small risk of cancer.  Your health care provider can make the appropriate referral to an endocrinologist, one of the many reasons it is important to visit your primary care provider and receive periodic physicals.

divya pati endocrinologistDr. Divya Pati is an endocrinologist practicing with TMCOne. She diagnoses and treats diabetes, thyroid problems, calcium disorders, osteoporosis, pituitary, adrenal and other hormonal disorders.

Stay in optimum health, prevent metabolic syndrome

Optimum Health .jpgDid you know that some people have a syndrome that places them at increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease – and they never even know they have it?

Metabolic syndrome, which often carries no signs or symptoms, is also associated with several obesity related disorders including fatty liver and cirrhosis, kidney disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea.

Tell me more. What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance syndrome or syndrome x, is a group of factors that increase the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps move blood sugar into the cell where it is used for energy. Obesity causes insulin resistance, which leads to high blood glucose.

How is it diagnosed?

A physician who specializes in endocrinology can prescribe the medical tests that diagnose Metabolic syndrome, which is determined by a presence of three of the following:

  • Abdominal obesity, defined as a waist circumference in men ≥102 cm (40 in) and in women ≥88 cm (35 in)
  • Serum triglycerides ≥150 mg/dL or drug treatment for elevated triglycerides
  • Serum HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dL in men and <50 mg/dL in women or drug treatment for low HDL cholesterol
  • Blood pressure ≥130/85 mmHg or drug treatment for elevated blood pressure
  • Fasting plasma glucose ≥100 mg/dL or drug treatment for elevated blood glucose

Prevalence

Metabolic syndrome is more common in African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans. Chances also increase with age, as well as with lack of physical activity.

Treatment

Treatment of metabolic syndrome is aggressive lifestyle modification focused on weight loss and increase in physical activity. Weight reduction is optimally achieved by diet, exercise and pharmacological treatment if needed. Medications are used to treat risk factors such as high blood pressure, glucose and lipids.

Optimum health

It is important to visit your primary care physician regularly and address an endocrinology specialist if metabolic syndrome is encountered. Maintaining a healthy diet and an exercise plan (approved by your provider) is an excellent way of avoiding metabolic syndrome and maintaining optimum health.

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Divya Reddy Pati, M.D.

Dr. Divya Pati is an endocrinologist practicing with TMCOne Medical Group. She diagnoses and treats diabetes, thyroid problems, calcium disorders, osteoporosis, pituitary, adrenal and other hormonal disorders.

TMC One Med Group your health your team OL

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes: Under new management

No doubt, a diabetes diagnosis changes a person’s life.  They may find themselves doing things they’ve never had to do before, like check their blood sugar multiple times a day, count carbohydrates, and perhaps even give themselves insulin shots.  Even starting an exercise plan may be a first for them.  The good news is that diabetes educators are available to help.  Diabetes educators are health care professionals who teach those with diabetes how to adjust their lifestyle and behavior so that they can successfully manage their disease.

Nancy KlugTMC Certified Diabetes Educator

Nancy Klug
TMC Certified Diabetes Educator

TMC Certified Diabetes Educator Nancy Klug developed her passion for educating others about diabetes after two close family members were diagnosed with it.  She’s been helping diabetics understand their disease, and get their blood sugar under control for more than 25 years.  She shares some valuable information about appropriate diabetes testing, and how the disease is managed.

Type 1 Diabetes

Background:  People with Type 1 diabetes often get strong symptoms that could land them in the emergency room.  Their blood sugar may be 300 or higher.  Many times they are very sick.  They may be vomiting, and even have trouble breathing.  Other symptoms include increased urination.  They may find themselves getting up many times during the night to use the restroom.  They’re also very thirsty, and extremely tired.  Rapid weight loss is another common symptom we see.  Many times Type 1 affects people who are under age 30.  There is a hereditary factor, but it’s not as strong as it is in Type 2.

Appropriate Testing:  A test called c-peptide is done.  This tells a clinician if the patient is making insulin.  They’ll also do some antibody testing to see if the patient has the antibodies that would kill their beta cells. 

Managing Type 1:  Type 1 diabetics will start on insulin right away.  They’ll need at least four shots a day.  A short-acting insulin at each meal, and then a long-acting insulin.  Or, they may be on an insulin pump.  There is no cure for Type 1, but like Type 2, it can be controlled.

Type 2 Diabetes

Background:  With Type 2 diabetes, there s a very strong hereditary factor, but it is possible for someone to develop it without having a family history.  The tricky part with Type 2 is that oftentimes it’s difficult for people to tell they have the disease, as there are no, or very few, symptoms.  Patients may have to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.  They also may be a little thirstier or more tired than usual, and have a wound that is slow to heal.  Unlike Type 1 diabetics, Type 2 diabetics do not have weight loss.  If diabetes goes uncontrolled for several years, complications can develop, including kidney, nerve and eye damage.  The biggest complication, however, is heart attack and stroke.

Appropriate Testing:  A physician who suspects a patient has diabetes will order an A1C test.  The blood test gives the physician an average of the patient’s blood sugar over the last three months.  A non-diabetic person may have an A1C around 4-6 percent.  Prediabetes is 5.7-6.4 percent.  A diabetes diagnosis is 6.5 percent or higher.

Managing Type 2:
  The American Diabetes Association recommends patients start on a medication called Metformin.  Patients are advised exercise at least 30 minutes, five times a week, and attend diabetes education classes where they’ll learn how to count their carbs, and keep them down, along with their saturated fat intake.  Eighty percent of Type 2 diabetics are overweight, so losing even a little weight can be very beneficial.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests Type 2 diabetics have a blood sugar range of 70-130 before meals, and 130-180 two hours after meals.  The American College of Endocrinology (ACE) has even stricter guidelines.  They recommend a blood sugar level of under 110 before meals, and under 140 two hours after meals.  At TMC, Klug says they teach patients both sets of guidelines, encouraging them to get into the ADA range first, and then aim for the ACE range.

In conclusion, Klug says, “The good news is that we know how to control diabetes.  Patients have to learn how to do it, but a diabetes educator and their team can work with you.  If you’re able to keep your numbers down, you can minimize the complications and have a fairly healthy life.  There’s nothing that you can’t do with diabetes.  There is no cure, and it will never go away, but you can get it under control.”

If you or someone you know has diabetes and wishes to speak to a diabetes educator at TMC, please call (520)324-3526 or (520)324-1265.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461