Khaldoun Al-Rayess, MD


As Tanner Clinic’s endocrinologist, Dr. Khaldoun Al-Rayess specializes in medical issues involving hormones. He’s known and respected for his compassionate bedside manner, as well as his appreciation for his patients.

A native of Syria, Dr. Al-Rayess earned his medical degree at Damascus University, where he placed sixth in a graduating class of 367. He traveled to the United States to continue his specialization in internal medicine, completing his residency at Michigan State University. That was followed by a fellowship in endocrinology at New Orleans’ Ochsner Clinic Foundation, whose hospital has been ranked No. 1 in Louisiana. He is board certified in internal medicine.

Dr. Al-Rayess arrived in Utah in 2005 and began his practice at Davis Endocrinology and Diabetes. He joined Tanner Clinic in November 2012. He and Brett Rawlins, a family nurse practitioner specializing in diabetes management, make a dynamic, effective endocrinology team.

A resident of Layton, he enjoys spending time with family, reading, cooking and vacationing.

What patients are saying about Dr. Al-Rayess

“He is the best doctor my husband and I have ever been to. He takes time to answer all of my questions, is always concerned about us as people and, most importantly, has helped give my husband back his life. Words can’t fully express how grateful we are to this man. I wish he wasn’t a specialist so we could see him for all our medical needs. If you’re reading this, thank you, Dr. Al-Rayess.”   —  Lisa on Facebook, Oct. 15, 2013

“He is a very amazing doctor who knows ALL his patients and remembers every one of them! I would recommend him to any patient who needs an endocrinologist in a heartbeat!”   —   Liz on Facebook, Oct. 9, 2013

“He is my endocrinologist, and took very good care of me during a very scary time. I would not still be here on this earth had he not been so aggressive with my care.”   —   Marlene, Facebook, Oct. 13, 2013

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Fatigue and Depression May Be Tip off to Thyroid Disorder

The patients who come in to see Dr. Khaldoun Al-Rayess are often sad and tired.
Sad because they’re fighting depression, and many times unwanted weight gain. Tired because they’re, well, just tuckered out.

Many times, these are the symptoms that bring patients into the office of this Tanner Clinic endocrinologist. And, as a specialist in disorders of the thyroid, adrenal and other glands, he’s able to tweak and repair the delicate balance of hormones that keep our bodies running.

Sometimes it’s too little hormone produced by the thyroid; sometimes it’s the pancreas inhibiting insulin, resulting in type 1 diabetes.

Hormones are the electronic signals that keep the hard drive of our bodies programmed and performing. These chemical messengers carry information and instructions from one set of cells to another. Our more than 20 different hormones move through the bloodstream, with each hormone designed to affect only certain cells.

Our various glands are designed to produce the right amount of hormones. But “those glands sometimes fail,” says Dr. Al-Rayess. “For one reason or another, they start producing a lower amount of the hormone. In other situations, they can produce too much.”

Hormonal disorders can be complex

Dr. Al-Rayess works with all types of hormonal disorders, as does his colleague Brett Rawlins, a family nurse practitioner. Brett works primarily with diabetes management.

Symptoms such as fatigue and depression can signal a range of problems. And how the hormone system — primarily the thyroid — can produce these symptoms is often misunderstood. Hormonal issues are “more complex,” he said. “You have to ask a lot of questions, you have to run a lot more tests, and you have to be experienced in interpreting the results.”

Many patients are referred to Dr. Al-Rayess from their family doctors. When normal treatments don’t produce the expected result, he said, these physicians “end up referring the patient to the endocrinologist to see if there’s anything else they can do beyond the general and usual treatments.”

One of the most common diagnoses he makes is that of a malfunctioning thyroid. All thyroid disorders, he says, are “autoimmune in nature — your immune system is attacking your own body.”

Such disorders as Hashimoto’s disease in the thyroid are well-known to be autoimmune. But autoimmune disorders can affect the entire endocrine system — for example, Addison’s disease is the result of under-producing adrenal glands.

Physician is a teacher at heart

Dr. Al-Rayess began his medical education in a much more peaceful Syria. After traveling to Turkey to take — and pass — the American medical exams, he settled on a residency in Michigan.

He chose the U.S., he says, because “it’s one of the best medical systems in the world regarding training.” Following his residency and fellowship, he opted to stay in the U.S. and specialize in endocrinology.

As a boy in Syria, Dr. Al-Rayess says he wavered between education and medicine as careers. Both, he explains, are about teaching.

“I think teaching and being a doctor are the most rewarding skills, and in medicine you get to do both — because you teach your patients as well as treat them,” he said. “If I weren’t a doctor, I’d be a teacher.”

All areas of medicine require physicians to educate their patients. However, many endocrine disorders require a higher learning curve for the patient. “Endocrinology is unique in that regard,” he said. “In a lot of specialties you have to do teaching, but in endocrinology it’s very prominent.”

Take type 2 diabetes, for instance. “Probably more than 50 percent of what we do for diabetes patients is to teach them — about a healthy diet, about exercise, about how to take medications and the side effects of medication,” he says.

The mix of teaching and doctoring delivers many rewards, he said. “When you treat for hormonal problems, you see results rather quickly, and it’s rewarding to say, ‘I’m able to help people’,” he said.

“This is not something I do for a living. I enjoy communicating with patients, I enjoy the feeling that I’m able to help.”

Be Alert for Signs of Underactive Thyroid

Illo-of-thyroid-glandHashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid, the gland that controls metabolism. The result of Hashimoto’s disease is often an under-active thyroid. Symptoms at first may be mild or nonexistent, but they worsen over time. The first sign of disease is often an enlarged thyroid which may cause the front of the neck to look swollen.

Hashimoto’s disease is seven times more prevalent in women than men.

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid include:

      ▸ Fatigue
▸ Weight gain
▸ Pale, puffy face
▸ Feeling cold
▸ Joint and muscle pain
▸ Constipation
▸ Dry, thinning hair
▸ Heavy menstrual flow or irregular periods
▸ Depression
▸ A slowed heart rate
▸ Problems getting pregnant

— U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health