Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Patient's Guide on what to ask an endocrinologist

at 11:58 PM
Image Source: utmc.utoledo.edu
Most endocrine disorders are not deeply understood by patients. A man with diabetes mellitus can say "I'm advised to control my sugar intake" without a strong understanding of why he needs to do so. At times, some patients who have just been referred to the endocrinology department even find it hard to remember that their doctors are called "endocrinologists." We really can't blame them. The endocrine system in itself is complex. It is a group of glands located in different parts of the body which secrete hormones that control reproduction, growth and development, and metabolism. That overview alone is enough for a patient to just stare blankly at the endocrinologist, especially when he or she has little or no background at all on the subject. Even the endocrinologist will find it challenging to explain the problem in simple terms, considering that the system is a very broad subject.

If you are a patient with an endocrine system disorder, you would want to be spared from all those scientific and medical terminologies, and simply concentrate on the information that is most essential about your condition. That will save the breath of your endocrinologist, as well as your energy in understanding the situation.

Patients, know your illness

Endocrinologists share the diagnosis to their patients after a series of confirmatory tests and health history taking. Most of the time, though, the explanation becomes too scientific. This leaves the patient at a loss and can only recall very little information about the diagnosis, which should not be the case. The diagnosis is for the patient. Therefore, it is not enough for him or her to know how the illness is called. The patient has the right to know every important detail about it in a way that is comprehensible to the layman. Patients should know how they could have possibly acquired the illness, if is it treatable, or what should be done for it not to worsen. If there is a need to describe a process, then the explanation must be concise, and the patient's level of understanding should be considered as well. Give the endocrinologist a light nudge if what he's discussing is already beyond comprehension. Patients should also have access to their laboratory and assessment results. Even if the patient cannot make sense of the documents at hand, the endocrinologist can use them as a guide in further explaining the diagnosis.

Patients, know your way out of the illness

The treatment course is undoubtedly the most important information that an endocrinologist should discuss with a patient. Since the treatment course is something that a patient should comply with, it is paramount that the patient should understand it. It should be a partnership action between the endocrinologist and the patient. If there are scheduled procedures, the patient should be well-informed of it and how the procedure is to be done. For medications, endocrinologists should give both the generic name and the brand name, and explain the dosage and frequency to the patient clearly. The patient should also be informed of the treatment schedule and duration. Special considerations and diet restrictions should also be reiterated to the patient accordingly. For example, diabetic patients must be advised to control sweets, while patients with hypothyroidism should wear thick sweatshirts as they are sensitive to cold.

Patients, know your health status

An illness concerning the endocrine is a life-changing factor. The feeling of uncertainty and grief clouds every patient's mind. If you see yourself in this situation, do not be afraid to ask any questions regarding your illness. Patients may ask how serious the illness is, and the endocrinologist should explain it with tact. If there is something that needs to be clarified, raise it without hesitation. Make sure that, before you step out of the office, you have a fairly good idea of your diagnosis and how to manage it.

The endocrine system in itself is complex system that needs to be managed well. If you have been diagnosed with a endocrine illness, it is important for you to fully understand it as well as the treatment that you have been prescribed, the probability of success and the full extent of the side effects. Having that knowledge will allow you to make an informed decision regarding your health.

StartLocal is an Australian business directory that has many endocrinologists listed Australia wide.

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