In Healthy Hints and Hacks

Dr Meg Henze, WA Endocrinologist

Dr Henze works with the Diabetes WA Telehealth team to consult with regional patients via video-conference.

What service does an endocrinologist provide?Dr Meg Henze, Endocrinologist, Diabetes WA Telehealth Service

Endocrinology is the field of hormone-related diseases. An endocrinologist can diagnose and treat hormone issues and the complications that arise from them. Hormone imbalances are the underlying reason for a wide range of medical conditions. Endocrinologists specialise in the glands of the endocrine (hormone) system. The pancreas is the gland involved in diabetes as it produces the hormone insulin.

How do you help people with diabetes?

I help people with diabetes by having the expertise to help manage their condition and assisting to coordinate their care amongst a multidisciplinary team. Often people with type 2 diabetes can be managed safely by their GP but sometimes their condition has progressed to the point they need specialist input or there are other factors that make their care more complex.

Type 1 and rarer forms of diabetes usually benefit from input by an endocrinologist as these can be trickier to manage and benefit from the detailed knowledge base of a specialist. When discussing insulin pumps, glucose-sensing technologies, avoiding hypoglycaemia and providing specialist reviews for driver’s licence medicals, it helps to have specialist knowledge and experience.

Why are you an important part of Team Diabetes?

It is essential that people living with diabetes, particularly type 1, have a good relationship with their endocrinologist and see them regularly to optimally manage their condition. This will help to avoid short-term complications such as hypoglycaemia, and long-term complications such as damage to eyes, kidneys and feet. Their endocrinologist will also be well placed to advise them about newly emerging technologies for managing their diabetes, such as new glucose monitors and sensors, new insulin formulations, or pumps.

Do you have a story or anecdote from client/s that you could share about how dental health has impacted their life?

I am passionate about delivering endocrine services to rural and remote patients who otherwise would have difficulty accessing this kind of specialist service. Having grown up in a regional town, I understand the difficulties faced by patients outside the metropolitan area in accessing appropriate care. In my regional work I have been lucky enough to see and assist many patients who haven’t had an endocrinology review for many years. In some cases, they had been misdiagnosed or given suboptimal treatment, which I was able to identify and improve upon.

I met a patient recently who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in his 30s and had been on insulin for the past 30 years. When I reviewed the history, it didn’t quite add up. Subsequent investigations showed he in fact had type 2 diabetes and was producing his own insulin. This meant that we could cease insulin injections and start him on oral therapies. He couldn’t believe that after 30 years of injections he would be able to stop because they weren’t needed. His life has changed enormously!

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