hormonal imbalances

Direct-acting hormones

Also, the substances that roll off the conveyor belt in the endocrine glands have in part unpronounceable names. Thankfully, that does not change its effectiveness.

  • Thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), calcitonin
  • Pancreatic hormones: insulin, glucagon
  • Adrenal hormones: adrenaline, cortisol, aldosterone, dopamine
  • Parathyroid hormones: parathyroid hormone
  • Sex hormones formed in testes, ovaries, adrenals: androgens, (especially testosterone), progestogens (especially progesterone), estrogens
  • Also in the brain, some hormones are formed that do not go through the hormone factories, but migrate directly to the target organ when needed.
    • Anterior pituitary gland: somatotropin (STH, growth hormone), prolactin (milk-producing hormone), melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH)
    • Posterior lobes of the pituitary gland: oxytocin (labor-inducing hormone), vasopressin (ADH, to regulate fluid balance). Strictly speaking, these hormones are undercover agents: they are already formed in the hypothalamus. Since officially there is only the organization, but no production takes place, they get on secret paths (via nerves) in the pituitary gland and wait there for a labor input.

Hormonal Disorders - small changes, big consequences

Hormones, control and target organs form a complex system. Changing anything in one place can cause customization in many other places. The purpose of this finely tuned structure is to optimally adjust the reactions of the body and its organs to the current, medium and long-term needs. The control circuits and multiple controls ensure that each body does what is conducive to the whole.

But in the networking is also the danger: If a job does not pull together, that can have a big impact. Or, to stick with the example of the economy: breaks strike in one of the factories, there is congestion on the roads, suddenly foreign providers flood the market with similar products (often cheaper but with poor quality), the bosses change their strategy, be Burying memos under the desk instead of putting them into action or when the end customer is on vacation or doing something else than expected - all this can cause system upheaval, in the worst case until collapse.

Due to the close links it is often not easy to identify the actual cause of the problems. And the normal market fluctuations - as the estrogen level rises and falls as the stock price in certain cycles, but more predictable - must also be taken into account.

In search of the evildoers

Interference can occur anywhere in the system and even in multiple places at the same time. Thus, the hormone-forming glands or control centers in the brain can be just as affected as the target organs or the proteins with which the hormones are transported in the blood. In addition, there are also tumors that produce hormones without worrying about the feedback mechanisms.

Proceed step by step

In order to master this tricky situation, a step-by-step approach usually makes sense. On the basis of the complaints and findings during the physical examination, it is often possible to narrow down which subsystem or hormone could be affected. For example, patients with the disease acromegaly show increased growth hormone production, typical changes in the face and hands, or those with thyroid problems that are typical for palpitations or sweating.

Subsequently, the concentration of the corresponding hormones in the blood and / or urine is determined ("hormone levels"). It is often to be considered that this (temporal) may be subject to fluctuations over time. Since the concentration of hormones is very low, extremely sensitive laboratory methods are used. Many hormones lose their efficacy quickly outside of the body and must therefore be recovered accordingly and transported quickly. In this phase, depending on the suspected cause, the corresponding organs can also be assessed by means of imaging techniques such as ultrasound.

Cause or consequence?

If there is actually an elevated or decreased hormone level, it must be checked if this is the cause or the consequence. Increased thyroid hormones can be produced by a thyroid tumor, but it can also be the result of releasing too many releasing hormones in the brain. This in turn may be because the disorder is there or because there is the wrong message that there are too few thyroid hormones in the blood.

research methods

You see, it's not so easy to get to the bottom of things. Stimulation tests are helpful in checking if and how the body reacts to certain hormones.

Here, too, imaging techniques can be used again, especially in the context of functional tests. For example, in scintigraphy, a radioactive substance is added, which, depending on the metabolic processes in a certain organ, for example, in the thyroid, stores. In this way, its function can be assessed and diseases can be identified. Hormone examinations are always part of the diagnosis of unwanted childlessness.

They are also used for therapy monitoring: If, for example, the hormone level rises again after the removal of a tumor, this indicates a relapse.

Trigger detected - danger banned?

The treatment depends on the cause and ranges from the drug therapy (with regular replacement of direct-acting hormones or the administration of hormones that promote or inhibit secretion) to radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery (for example tumor removal). Course and prognosis depend strongly on the cause and can not be assessed as a whole because of the manifold causes.

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