Know your Hormones

21 August, 2017

How many times do you remember someone saying …‘stop behaving hormonal’? It’s unfortunate that hormones are blamed for whacky behavior, but then the truth is that some hormones do get to your head and set your mood see-sawing like a pendulum.

Hormones are basically chemicals made by specialist cells in the endocrine gland and play an important role in the way your body operates. There are well over 50 hormones that the endocrine glands release into the bloodstream to communicate with other parts of the body. They are often referred to as ‘chemical messengers’ and the complex interplay between the glands, hormones and the target organs is referred to as the endocrine system.

Hormones play an important role in almost all physiologic activities, including metabolism, appetite, growth, puberty and fertility. Mundane things like how much you poop, pee or the growth of your hair are also controlled by these amazing chemical messengers. Aside from mood swings accompanying menstruation or stress, conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease and pregnancy are no less in creating havoc in your body, making you wonder what’s wrong with your body!

The importance of hormones and keeping them in balance has becoming an essential aspect of all-round health in the past few years. Quite often, conditions arising due to hormonal imbalance are attributed to other disease conditions, thereby delaying timely treatment of the endocrine malfunction. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms or warning signs of hormonal imbalances:

Weight loss or gain of unexplained origin – Regulation of metabolism and how we burn or store calories is controlled by hormones; when there are unexplained fluctuations in weight, a malfunctional thyroid or adrenal gland could be the root cause and can usually be corrected by simple dietary adjustments. Stubborn belly fat could also be due to cortisol, the stress hormone, so indulge in stress-relieving activities.

Increased food cravings – Simple nutrient deficiencies or hormonal imbalances in the adrenals, thyroid or pancreas could increase cravings for specific sweet or salty foods as well as hunger even when you don’t need food. Instead of indulging yourself, consult a doctor.

Irregular digestion – Hormones play an important role in digestion and their imbalance can produce symptoms like bloating, burping, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, nausea or even itching in the nether regions. Check with a doctor if this is a continuous process.

Profuse sweating – Excessive sweating is a symptom of hypo- and hyperthyroidism, but could also be due to reproductive hormones in females during menopause or due to use of contraceptive pills. A doctor should be able to pinpoint the exact cause to get you functioning normally again.

Mood swings – The most publicized causes of hormones are anxiety, irritability and mood swings. It’s not just PMS but over-worked adrenals, hypothyroidism, excess dopamine or GABA, serotonin deficiency, etc, that can throw your body into disarray too.

Low libido – Loss of sex drive is fairly common when hormones become imbalanced; diet, lifestyle as well as the environment contribute to this imbalance. Hormone-healthy foods go a long way in reversing this effect.

Insomnia – Surprisingly, hormones can be blamed for irregular sleep patterns too! This is because the circadian cycle which regulates the body’s energy levels and sends signals when it’s time to sleep, is also a part of the endocrine system.

Chronic fatigue – Aside from all the other uncomfortable symptomatology produced by hormonal imbalances, it comes as no surprise that hormones can also lead to chronic fatigue on a daily basis. When hormones are out of balance, the body has to work overtime to perform its basic functions as well as correct itself, thus making the body feel completely exhausted…

If one or more of these symptoms apply to you, a visit to the doctor would help in allaying or confirming your suspicions.