What are hormonal imbalances?
Hormones are chemicals that the body creates to regulate various functions, such as blood sugar control, growth, and temperature just to name a few. So an imbalance would mean that there is too much or too little of a particular hormone floating around the bloodstream, causing a problem.
Can we see hormones?
You really can’t see hormones and no one is walking around with a gauge on their body that says “currently experiencing too much insulin or estrogen or testosterone.” They are not visible or are they? Hormones are manufactured by glands of the Endocrine System, so an Endocrinologist is a specialist that studies these hormones and knows how to recognize signs of imbalance. So you can’t see the actual hormone, but you can see the signs they leave behind.
What are the signs of the Endocrine system / hormonal imbalance?
Here is an example of a common diagnosis. Signs of hormonal imbalance include excessive thirst, excessive urination, rapid, unexplained weight loss, headaches, unexplained fatigue, and general irritability. Now those are a lot of signs! But think about it. If the person is not looking for anything specific, such as hormonal imbalance, they may not experience them all at once and they may not put two and two together and get four until they visit their doctor who looks at all the symptoms as a whole and says gee, we better send you for a blood test. Upon discovery that the blood sugar is too high, the general practitioner then sends the person on to the Endocrinologist who will attempt to use a variety of options to rebalance the Diabetic’s blood sugar. For Type 2 diabetes, where the pancreas still manufactures insulin, the doctor may use pills that are designed to work in conjunction with the hormone insulin. In the case of Type 1 diabetes, they may use the actual hormone, insulin via shots or an insulin pump to regulate the out of whack blood sugar. Both are an attempt to rebalance the presence of the hormone insulin in the body. Insulin is manufactured by the pancreas, a gland in the Endocrine System.
Another common ailment of the Endocrine System is Acromegaly. The presence of too much Human Growth Hormone, secreted by the Pituitary Gland can cause excessive growth in children.
Other Endocrine Problems
There are many hormones all working in congress with one another in the body. They are insulin, steroids, growth hormones, adrenaline, estrogen and progesterone, and even testosterone. When they get out of balance, i.e. too much or too little is found in the bloodstream, the signs are often subtle but there are signs. As mentioned above the signs for diabetes are common, but other signs for hormonal imbalance include weak or brittle bones, bloating, unexplained loss or increase in appetite, a change in heart rates, such as the sudden onset of a faster than a normal heartbeat and changes to the sleep cycle.
Everyone goes through an imbalance of hormones at one time or another during their life. Puberty is the biggest change that most often experience, but any number of causes can be found, surgery, injury and stress to name a few. There are also man-made reasons, i.e. birth control in women.
In the last 50 years, there have been so many advances in research of the Endocrine System, that most of the issues that crop up are very treatable with medications that are no more inconvenient than an extra vitamin a day. Make no mistake. Hormonal imbalances are not always picked up right away. As a patient, advocate for your situation and your symptoms. You know your body and you know when something isn’t right. Keep asking questions and discussing symptoms until you find the right doctor/nurse to listen and properly diagnose your issue.