Hormones are chemicals that those are secreted by certain ductless glands called endocrine glands. These chemicals or hormones travel through the blood and are responsible for regulating most of the functions of the body. These functions include body metabolism, sleep cycle, reproductive cycle, growth and development and body temperature.
The endocrine glands in the body are -adrenal glands, gonads (testis and ovaries), pineal gland, pituitary gland, hypothalamus gland, thyroid and parathyroid glands and pancreatic islets.
An imbalance of these chemicals or hormones can occur due to many reasons and cause many symptoms
Some of the symptoms are as follows – A person may have unexplained and rapid gain of weight or loss of weight.
A women may have irregular menstrual cycle
Loss of sex drive or libido
Excessive facial hair in women
Dry skin and brittle hair and thinning of the hair
Difficulty in sleeping
Anxiety and depression
Irregular heart beat
There are many causes that can lead to the imbalance in the hormones .Some of the causes include –stress which may be physical , mental or emotional ; Diabetes mellitus can lead to imbalance of other hormones as well ; Hyperplasia or over activity of the endocrine glands or underactivity of the endocrine glands ;poor nutrition ; deficiency in nutrients such as iodine ; Infections such as mumps or tuberculosis ; tumours of the endocrine glands or tumours outside the endocrine glands that secrete hormone like substances ; intake of hormones externally such as anabolic steroids ( body building steroids ) or birth control pills ; chromosomal problems, exposure to pollutants ,chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Women experience hormonal changes at puberty, menopause and pregnancy.
PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition where the imbalance in the hormones can lead to obesity, irregular periods and facial hair in women. Many of these women are also prone to facial acne
Around menopause again the imbalance can cause heavy and irregular bleeding, excessive weight gain and hot flushes.
Men may also have hormonal imbalance around puberty and andropause
Men tend to also gain or lose weight ,may have acne or may have mood changes and depression due to this imbalance
The men with imbalance are also prone to prostatic cancers
Men may also suffer from loss or sex drive or libido or erectile dysfunction due to this imbalance
Investigation and diagnosis of the Hormonal imbalance can be done by investigations in the laboratory
These investigations include -1. Estimation of the levels of the hormones such as Thyroid profile – which includes estimating the levels of T3, T4 and TSH.
Estimating the levels of the pituitary hormones such as LH ,FSH and PROLACTIN
Estimating the levels of SEX HORMONES such as oestrogen levels (E2) and the levels of Testosterone in males
Hormones secreted by the adrenal glands such as the Cortisol level and The Aldosterone levels can also be estimated in the laboratory.
The assessment of lipid profile and calcium and phosphorous can also indirectly help us diagnose imbalances in hormones.
The interpretation of the hormone levels is to be done by the doctor along with the clinical features and the clinical picture.