The endocrine system controls hormone production in your body. Hormones play a huge role in your body by coordinating and controlling the functioning of several body organs. They also help in the maintenance of homeostasis. Homeostasis refers to the ability of a body to maintain constant internal conditions despite changes in the surrounding conditions.
Hormones are chemical messengers; they are released from one organ and can either act in the same organ or a different organ. The brain controls the release of nearly all hormones in the body. The hypothalamus, for example, is an organ in the brain that releases Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH). The hormone, in turn, triggers the release of other hormones such as luteinizing hormone (LH) and the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Hormones serve functions such as regulating sleep cycles, body temperature, heart rate, metabolism, reproductive function, stress, and many other functions.
What is a hormonal disorder?
A hormonal disorder is a condition that affects the function of hormones in your body. It is caused by an imbalance in the levels of your hormones, tumors in endocrine organs, or problems affecting hormone receptors. Hormones act through interaction with specific receptors in the target organ.
Hormone imbalance is the most common hormonal disorder. The disorder could cause hormone levels to be higher or lower than normal. The levels, in turn, affect normal body functioning. Depending on the hormone, low or high levels usually have consequences on the target organ or the entire body. Low testosterone level, for example, has negative effects on the reproductive function of a man by causing erectile dysfunction and affecting the effectiveness of sperms in causing fertilization.
When the levels of a hormone drop, a positive feedback mechanism is initiated to raise the levels of the hormone. In positive feedback, the organ producing the hormone sends signals to the brain to increase the production of the hormone. Using testosterone as an example, the hormone is produced by the testicles. When the levels drop, the hypothalamus is triggered to produce Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone. The hormone, in turn, triggers the anterior pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone. Luteinizing hormone then acts on testicles to increase testosterone production. In hormonal imbalance, the positive feedback is not initiated.
Hormone disorders could also be due to ineffective receptor interaction. You could have normal levels of a particular hormone but still experience consequences of insufficient hormones. This could because the hormones fail to interact with their receptors in the target organ to produce the desired effect.
A tumor in an endocrine organ like the pituitary can lead to the overproduction of hormones, causing a disorder.
The type of hormone disorder you experience will depend on the hormone affected. Some common hormone disorders include:
- Precocious puberty.
- Adrenal insufficiency.
Insufficient production of the thyroid hormone has consequences such as fatigue and depression. This is early puberty caused by an early release of reproductive hormones. The adrenal gland releases hormones such as aldosterone and cortisol, when it is insufficient, the levels of the hormone drop. Menopause in women is usually due to an imbalance of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone. Common symptoms include night sweats and hot flushes.
Hormone disorders have different symptoms depending on the affected target organ. Symptoms can include unexplained changes in body weight, depression, unexplainable thirst, stiff joints, infertility, fatigue, thin hair or hair loss, and sweating. The symptoms can also differ in women, men, and children. In women, a reproductive hormone disorder can lead to vaginal atrophy and dryness, while in men, it can lead to prostate enlargement and gynecomastia.
Is a hormonal disorder always chronic?
No, a hormonal disorder is not always chronic. Hormonal disorders can range from acute to chronic. If detected early, a hormone disorder can be resolved through treatment. However, some hormonal disorders can be chronic due to late detection. Hormone disorders can be detected through tests such as blood tests, sperm count, thyroid scan, and ultrasound. It is never too late for you to start hormonal therapy if your hormonal disorder is detected late.
Treatment of hormonal disorders is usually through hormonal replacement therapy. Several drugs are designed to slowly release hormones into your bloodstream in case your hormone levels are low. You can also combat symptoms of hormonal disorders through a healthy diet. Menopausal women, for example, can use flax seeds to reduce symptoms of night sweats and hot flushes associated with menopause.
In most cases, hormonal diseases need long term treatment. We at Revive Therapy and Wellness make sure that your hormonal disorder is properly managed through the professional medical and nutritional services that we offer. We believe that proper treatment should encompass both medication and nutritional aspects. We usually deal with patients living around Birmingham and Alabama but are open to patients from other regions as well. Call us today on (205) 352-9141 to schedule an appointment or visit our clinic at Hoover, Alabama.