announcement

Help someone with useful health advice.

Hormone Imbalance Symptoms

Hormone Imbalance Symptoms

Hormonal imbalance can be caused by a wide range of reasons. The following HealthHearty write-up provides information on the common symptoms of hormone imbalance.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: Apr 20, 2018
The term 'hormone' refers to a chemical substance that is secreted by an endocrine gland or organ of the human body. Hormones are broadly categorized into peptide hormones, steroid hormones, and monoamines. Hormones are chemical messengers that are carried by the bloodstream to the target cells or tissue, wherein they generate a specific response or regulate vital body processes associated with growth, metabolism, and reproduction.

Hypothalamus, pineal gland, pituitary gland, adrenal glands, and thyroid gland are some of the glands that secrete hormones. Hormones are also secreted by gonads. The production and secretion of hormones is essential for healthy functioning of the human body. Hormonal imbalance can have serious repercussions on the health of the affected individual. If the glands or organs that produce or secrete hormones are adversely affected, it could give rise to a host of distressing symptoms.

Contributing Factors

The secretion of each hormone is associated with the generation of a specific response in the target site. Inadequate or excessive production of hormones could give rise to several health problems. Here's some information about some of the hormones that are essential for various vital bodily processes.

Human Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone, which is also referred to as somatotropin, is a peptide hormone that plays an important role in stimulating growth. Secretion of HGH is essential for the growth of cells and bones. It is also responsible for cell regeneration and reproduction. Produced by the pituitary gland, HGH is secreted in larger amounts during childhood and adolescence. It is the secretion of HGH that facilitates an increase in height. Abnormalities in stature or height is one of the main hormone imbalance symptoms that is associated with the human growth hormone.

➞ Delayed growth or inadequate growth in children is associated with inadequate secretion of HGH.
➞ While inadequate secretion of this hormone during childhood would cause dwarfism, excessive secretion of HGH gives rise to gigantism.
➞ If HGH is secreted in large amounts in adults, it could lead to a condition called acromegaly. People affected by acromegaly usually have large hands and feet, enlarged facial features, thickened skin, etc. The affected individuals look disproportionately tall, with long limbs but a relatively small body.

Estrogen and Progesterone

Estrogen and progesterone are both steroid hormones that are essential for proper functioning of the female reproductive system. These are sex hormones that are produced by the ovaries. After the onset of puberty, it is the interplay of estrogen and testosterone that regulates the menstrual cycle, which refers to the cyclical changes that occur every month. These hormones also prepare a woman's body for pregnancy. These are responsible for thickening of the uterine lining, as well as the shedding of the uterine lining in case the fertilization of an egg and sperm doesn't take place. If the fertilized egg gets implanted, the uterine lining continues to thicken, and menstrual bleeding doesn't take place. Hormonal imbalance occurs in case of estrogen dominance, which refers to elevated levels of estrogen in comparison to progesterone levels. Use of birth control pills, smoking, alcohol abuse, stress, poor lifestyle choices, obesity, pregnancy, menopause, tumors, or autoimmune conditions that affect endocrine glands are often the contributing factors for hormonal imbalance. The symptoms associated with imbalance of these hormones include:

➞ Irregularities in the menstrual cycle
➞ PMS
➞ Weight gain
➞ Hair loss
➞ Fatigue
➞ Irritability
➞ Irrational behavior
➞ Mood swings

Testosterone is a male sex hormone that is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics. Inadequate secretion of this hormone leads to decreased sex drive. Low testosterone levels in men are usually associated with aging. Testosterone is also secreted in small amounts in women. Excessive secretion of this hormone in women could lead to the development of a deep and husky voice, acne, excessive growth of facial hair, etc.

Thyroxine

Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are hormones that are secreted by the thyroid gland. Thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located around the base of the neck. The secretion of these hormones is stimulated by the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH is produced by the pituitary gland. The secretion of thyroid hormones is essential for regulating the metabolism. Hormonal imbalance is often associated with inadequate or excessive secretion of thyroid hormones. Irregularities in the menstrual cycle is often linked to thyroid gland problems.

➞ Hyperthyroidism is a condition that is characterized by excessive secretion of thyroxine. Its symptoms include excessive weight loss despite a good appetite, excessive sweating, insomnia, restlessness, palpitations, muscle weakness, etc.
➞ Hypothyroidism is a condition that is characterized by inadequate secretion of thyroxine. It can affect children, as well as adults.
➞ Infants with inadequate secretion of thyroid hormone are diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism, which is also referred to as cretinism. This condition is characterized by stunted physical and mental growth.
➞ Adults affected by hypothyroidism are likely to experience fatigue, lethargy, cold intolerance, and unexplained weight gain.

Insulin

Insulin and glucagon are peptide hormones that are secreted by the beta cells and alpha cells of the pancreas respectively. They play a vital role in the regulation of blood sugar. Glucagon facilitates the conversion of stored glycogen from the liver into glucose. While secretion of glucagon raises blood glucose levels, the secretion of insulin lowers the blood sugar levels. Insulin signals the liver, muscle, and fat tissues to take glucose from the blood and store it in the form of glycogen.

➞ Excessive secretion of insulin leads to hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels), which may sometimes send a person into an insulin shock. Confusion, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, sweating, or loss of consciousness are some of the symptoms associated with low blood glucose levels. Such people need to carry chocolates or sweets with them as a precautionary measure.
➞ Diabetes, which is a condition that is characterized by high blood sugar levels, occurs due to the inadequate secretion of insulin, or inability of the body to use insulin properly. Excessive thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite, weight loss, weakness, vision problems, etc., are some of the symptoms of diabetes.

Antidiuretic Hormone

ADH stands for antidiuretic hormone. Also called vasopressin, ADH is secreted by the pituitary gland. It prevents the urine from becoming too concentrated. Excessive secretion of this hormone causes urine to become concentrated. It could also cause water retention, which in turn may cause puffiness. Inadequate secretion of ADH could cause diabetes insipidus, which is a condition that is characterized by excessive thirst and passage of very dilute urine.

Since proper secretion of hormones is extremely essential for healthy functioning of the human body, hormone replacement therapy or the use of synthetic hormone supplements is often suggested for correcting hormonal imbalance. Lifestyle changes must also be made to lower the risk of hormonal imbalance.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.