Understanding and managing hormone imbalance

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Hormone
This is an artist’s representation of a molecule of insulin. This hormone helps the body use its food as energy. (Source: DR_MICROBE/ISTOCKPHOTO)

Jakarta, IO – The amazing biochemistry of the human body hosts over 50 hormones, and they are constantly fluctuating. Hormones, chemicals secreted by our glands in order to send “messages” through the bloodstream, are responsible for essentially every function in our bodies. Those messages then impart guidance to our organs, telling them what to do to keep us alive and healthy. 

As quote from Endocrineweb, when we think “hormone,” we usually think about testosterone or estrogen, the sex hormones, but among the 50 plus hormones circulating inside your body right now are your thyroid hormones, which oversee metabolism, energy levels, and temperature, while cortisol, “the stress hormone,” plays a role in fetal development and your response to physical and psychological stress. From heart rate to appetite to sexual function, each and every hormone plays an important role. 

You have or will likely experience a hormonal imbalance at some point in your life, especially if you have an endocrine disorder. Age and lifestyle are factors, too. The symptoms of hormonal imbalance can vary widely, as each hormone is uniquely responsible for its role. 

Symptoms of hormonal imbalance: sudden or inexplicable weight gain or weight loss, difficulty sleeping, feeling very hot or very cold in inexplicable changes, or extreme sensitivity to heat or cold, excessive sweating, heart rate changes, dry skin or sudden acne, anxiety or other mood changes, sexual function or sexual appetite shifts, blurred vision, brittle hair and nails, excessive hair growth or breast tenderness. 

The main causes of hormonal imbalance are not uncommon. Firstly, medical conditions, as well as the medications or treatments for those conditions, can all impact your hormones. For example, some breast cancer treatments can reduce estrogen levels, while Cushing’s syndrome or Addison’s disease are marked by too-high or too-low (respectively) levels of the hormone cortisol. Other causes of hormonal imbalance may include type 1 and 2 diabetes, hypoglycemia, and thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. In women, conditions such as menopause or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may result in hormonal fluctuations. In men, hypogonadism may lead to low hormone levels. 

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Other culprits include injury, trauma or eating disorders. One of the most common causes of hormonal imbalance, however, is stress — which is unfortunately a stranger to no one. 

In fact, stress can lead to gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and brain function problems. We’ve all been there. Running to the bathroom before a big deadline? Heart skipping a beat when you’re dealing with big life decisions? Blame stress.