3 common endocrine disorders: diagnosis, treatment and management strategies


As disorders of the endocrine system are increasingly affecting society, there is more demand than ever for endocrinology specialists globally across the healthcare industry. Our online endocrinology courses provide clinically-rich, scenario-based learning to equip students with the skills and knowledge required to treat endocrine diseases with confidence, and stay up to date with the latest advances in endocrinology research and practice.

In this blog, we explore 3 endocrine disorders covered in our endocrinology diploma which are most commonly treated by endocrinologists, and how they are characterised, diagnosed and managed.

1. Polycystic ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Covered in our reproductive endocrinology module, PCOS affects approximately 1 in 10 women, and is characterised by a number of symptoms - irregular periods, excessive hair growth, weight gain, and fertility complications, to name but a few. While it is difficult to determine the exact cause of PCOS, it is linked to abnormal hormone levels, in particular insulin and testosterone.

PCOS can be diagnosed through blood tests, pelvic ultrasound scans, and irregular periods. Endocrinologists may recommend lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and healthy eating as part of an individual treatment plan, as weight loss can significantly alleviate symptoms of PCOS. There are also several medicines that may be involved in treatment plans, including contraception, or ovulation stimulating medicines for fertility, and various options such as laser hair removal for excessive hair growth.

As with many endocrine disorders, there are links with other bodily systems and medical disciplines - PCOS is associated with diabetes due to increased insulin, obesity and weight management due to associated weight loss, and sexual and reproductive health due to fertility issues.

If you specialise in endocrinology, you will encounter a variety of issues and collaborate with a number of other specialists in determining the best outcomes and treatment plans for your patients.

2. Cushing's syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome occurs in cases of excessive presence of cortisol hormone in the body, often caused by consumption of steroid medicines, and more rarely as a result of a tumour in the pituitary gland or adrenal gland.

Symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include increased weight gain and body fat around the chest, stomach, back of neck and shoulder areas, reduced libido and fertility problems, changes to skin such as large purple stretch marks and propensity to bruising, and a number of other complications.

To diagnose Cushing’s syndrome, cortisol levels can be tested through testing the blood, saliva or urine, and endocrinologists may undertake further scans and tests to determine causes of the disorder. Cushing’s syndrome may be treated by modifying steroid dosage, or prescribing other medicines to reduce cortisol’s effects, or in the case of a tumour, surgery may be required.

3. Hyperthyroidism

Occurring when excessive thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism is characterised by weight loss, fast heart rate, sweating and nervousness.

The most common cause of an overactive thyroid is an autoimmune disorder called Grave’s disease, though hyperthyroidism can also be caused by medicines containing iodine, development of nodules on the thyroid, or tumours in the pituitary or thyroid gland.

Hyperthyroidism is usually diagnosed by a thyroid function test, where levels of the main thyroid hormones in the blood are tested and analysed. In some cases further tests are necessary in diagnosing hyperthyroidism, which may include a blood test for anti-thyroid antibodies, or a scan searching for nodules and tumours.

Endocrinologists develop treatment plans for hyperthyroidism which will usually involve thionamide medicines, radioactive iodine treatment, or surgery - or in some cases a combination of these options depending on the unique requirements of the individual patient.

Both our PgDip in Endocrinology and MSc Endocrinology courses include the module ‘Disorders of the thyroid’, where you will develop an in-depth physiological understanding of the thyroid and its hormones, with a critical awareness of the diagnosis and management of hyperthyroidism and other disorders of the thyroid.

Expand your understanding with our endocrinology courses

Coming to terms with the symptoms and diagnosis of endocrine disorders like PCOS, Cushing’s syndrome and Hyperthyroidism can present difficulties for patients and their day to day life.

As an endocrinology specialist, understanding the underlying mechanisms of these disorders, their impact on bodily systems and how best to support patients through changes and treatment plans is essential to success - and our postgraduate endocrinology courses provide exactly that.

Taking the next step to further your understanding of endocrinology can lead to providing a source of great help and support and really improving the quality of life of your patients.

By studying our endocrinology courses online, you can balance your studies with full-time work and other commitments; our flexible courses are designed to fit around your lifestyle, with no lectures or seminars.

With learning delivered through our renowned faculty of specialist tutors, you will receive expert support and guidance throughout your studies with Learna | Diploma MSc. What’s more, you’ll be joining a worldwide multidisciplinary network of healthcare professionals, meaning you can develop a global perspective and share best practice.

What are you waiting for? To learn more about these disorders and other common endocrine disorders, advance your endocrinology career and apply for our endocrinology courses today.