Cooper: It’s All About Hormones

Many times, people have health issues and they aren’t exactly sure who can help – that’s often when an endocrinologist at Cooper Care Alliance is called in. These Cooper specialists focus on diagnosing and managing disorders related to the endocrine system, which plays a vital role in regulating hormones. When you regulate your hormones, you are improving your overall health. 

Endocrine disorders affect almost every area of the body, which means you don’t just need a great endocrinologist – you need a great multidisciplinary medical team. Cooper’s comprehensive approach is the key to accurately diagnosing, treating and monitoring your health. 

When symptoms are delayed

Gregory Barone, DO, Medical Director
Cooper Care Alliance Endocrinology

Some issues the endocrinologists at Cooper Care Alliance treat may have no symptoms at all – that is, until the issue is already well underway, says Gregory Barone, DO, medical director of Cooper Care Alliance Endocrinology. 

“If you and your provider aren’t actively tracking your bone health, it’s possible you won’t catch bone density issues until the consequences are huge – think fractures, bone breaks, hunching or even losing vertical height,” says Dr. Barone. 

The most common bone health issues Cooper endocrinologists see are osteoporosis, decreased bone density and osteopenia, a lower level of bone mineral density. While osteoporosis requires treatment beyond exercise and supplements, osteopenia may not require medication.

“Because there are often no early symptoms, screening is crucial, particularly for postmenopausal women, men with low testosterone, individuals experiencing appreciable height loss, those on long-term high-dose steroid therapy, such as for arthritis or respiratory conditions, and women on hormonal therapy for breast cancer,” says Dr. Barone. 

Treatment for bone health issues typically involves a combination of  medications and lifestyle interventions.

“We suggest adequate calcium supplementation – around 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day – and vitamin D – at least 400 international units,” he says. “Weight-bearing exercises are also essential for promoting bone health.”

“Endocrine disorders affect almost every area of the body, which means you don’t just need a great endocrinologist – you need a great multidisciplinary medical team. ”

Tired all the time

Bryan Davis, DO, Endocrinologist
Cooper Care Alliance

Everyone feels tired from time to time, but when it becomes chronic, it’s one of the most clear signs that it’s time to get your thyroid levels checked, says Bryan Davis, DO, a Cooper Care Alliance endocrinologist. 

There are 2 main conditions related to the thyroid. Hypothyroidism is characterized by chronic fatigue, weight gain and, at times, nodules on the neck, while hyperthyroidism manifests as sudden and dramatic weight loss, along with cardiac symptoms such as palpitations, tremors and sweating. 

“It can be difficult to understand if it’s a true thyroid issue or just a lifestyle issue,” says Dr. Davis. “You can experience fatigue from anything – your job, stress, depression. But that sometimes causes people to delay diagnosis.” 

Once you do go to the doctor, these issues are relatively easy to diagnose. 

All it takes is a thorough physical examination and medical history, especially a history of autoimmune disease. If cancer is a concern, Cooper’s innovative Ultrasound-guided thyroid biopsy can catch and diagnose it right away.

While you don’t need specific thyroid screening unless you have a family history of thyroid disorders, Dr. Davis says it’s important to get symptoms checked out as soon as they arise so you can get the treatment you need to either replace the missing hormones or block excessive hormone production.

“Untreated hypothyroidism can cause coma and hospitalization requiring a ventilator,” he adds. “On the other hand, hyperthyroidism is more aggressive and can rapidly progress, potentially resulting in significant heart events like heart failure and heart attacks.”

Managing diabetes 

Patricia Luceri, DO, Endocrinologist
Cooper Care Alliance

Diabetes, when monitored and treated closely, can have very little impact on someone’s quality of life. But when it’s not managed correctly, it can have disastrous (if not deadly) consequences, says Patricia Luceri, DO, an endocrinologist at Cooper Care Alliance. 

“Heightened thirst, increased urination, blurred vision and unintentional weight loss should all trigger you to get your glucose checked,” says Dr. Luceri. 

While the symptoms may seem innocent at first, they can become serious very quickly if left untreated. Failure to keep blood sugar levels in check for prolonged periods can lead to complications like kidney damage, vision loss, loss of sensation starting in your feet, and infections. 

“While lifestyle changes, like a healthier diet, reducing sugar intake and increasing physical activity, may be enough for some,” Dr. Luceri says, “others may require a combination of lifestyle modifications and medications to control their diabetes.” 

These changes can be hard to manage on your own, so Cooper Endocrinology patients have access to resources to help manage their diabetes, such as diabetes education and nutrition counseling. 

Also, medications have changed a lot in the last few decades. Cooper offers continuous glucose monitors, for example, that allow individuals to monitor their blood sugar levels in real time and provide insights into blood sugar patterns. Cooper also offers insulin pump therapy, so patients can better control their levels with automated insulin delivery. 

Working closely with an endocrinologist enables effective diabetes management, minimizing the risk of complications and promoting overall well-being.

When your hormones just aren’t right

Anthony Cannon, MD, Endocrinologist
Cooper Care Alliance

When patients come to the doctor with symptoms like fatigue, sexual dysfunction and obesity – especially if they’re also on numerous medications – there may be a pituitary gland disorder at play, says Anthony Cannon, MD, a Cooper Care Alliance endocrinologist. 

There are 2 types of pituitary gland disorders. The majority (roughly 70%) cause hormone deficiencies, which can cause an inadequate production of sex hormones,  bringing with it low libido, erectile dysfunction, decreased muscle mass, fatigue, depression and even infertility.

“But the opposite – secreting too many hormones – can be dangerous as well,” Dr. Cannon says. “During infertility workups, reproductive endocrinologists often stumble upon pituitary tumors that secrete excessive levels of the hormone that regulates reproductive functions.” 

Symptoms can include irregular menstrual periods or absence of menstruation, milky discharge from the breasts, infertility, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction in men, and pressure on nearby structures in the brain that cause headaches and visual disturbances.

“The majority of these issues are caused by medications,” he says. “So many antipsychotic medications as well as drugs that we use to treat cancer sometimes attack cells, causing pituitary dysfunction.”

But medication, he says, can also help – by either controlling excess hormones or supplementing deficiencies. Cooper also offers Gamma Knife radiosurgery of pituitary tumors, a non-invasive procedure that uses highly focused radiation beams to target and treat pituitary tumors with little to no damage to the surrounding healthy tissues.

“With proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment, many pituitary disorders can be effectively managed, allowing individuals to lead normal and healthy lives,” says Dr. Cannon.

The importance of calcium

Priya Shah, DO, Endocrinologist
Cooper Care Alliance

If you’re experiencing symptoms such as worsening bone pain, constipation, unregulated high blood pressure or frequent episodes of kidney stones, it may signal a calcium imbalance, says Priya Shah, DO, a Cooper Care Alliance endocrinologist. 

Calcium levels are routinely checked by primary care doctors as a part of your regular lab work. But when levels are off, that’s when you may need an endocrinologist to determine the underlying cause to help determine treatment. Some issues may require surgery, while others can be managed by medication, diet or lifestyle changes. 

“Failure to seek proper treatment for high calcium levels can lead to some serious complications, including frequent kidney stones, accelerated hypertension, severe dehydration, and altered mental status requiring hospitalization,” says Dr. Shah. “Regular blood work and routine labs are essential for monitoring calcium levels and detecting any abnormalities, especially early on while the issue is still highly treatable.”   

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