Keeping a close eye on hormones and how they affect us is not just for teens going through puberty or women during pregnancy or menopause, but for all of us, at every stage of our lives. Hormones are an extremely essential part of our body functions. Here are the top five functions of hormones:
For example, suppose you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid is underactive. In that case, you may start treatment with a medication that increases thyroid hormone levels, such as levothyroxine or Synthroid. Typically taken once a day and at the same time each day to maintain an even level of hormones in the body. Exercise, stress management, and getting enough rest are also important aspects of managing hypothyroidism.
The treatment substitutes or supplements the thyroid hormone usually generated by the thyroid gland. A deficiency in thyroid hormone can occur naturally or be caused by damage to the thyroid gland due to radiation or medications, or surgical removal of the gland. Adequate thyroid hormone levels are crucial for sustaining normal cognitive and physical functions.
Because hyperthyroidism increases metabolism, insulin is eliminated faster, causing blood sugar levels to rise. This can increase the risk of diabetes or make diabetes harder to control. Hypothyroidism can also lead to low blood sugar.
According to the highly acclaimed Cleveland Clinic, “Hormones are chemicals that coordinate different functions in your body by carrying messages through your blood to your organs, skin, muscles and other tissues. These signals tell your body what to do and when to do it. Hormones are essential for life and your health.
Hormones and most of the tissues (mainly glands) that create and release them make up your endocrine system. Hormones control many different bodily processes, including:
- Homeostasis (constant internal balance), such as blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, fluid (water) and electrolyte balance and body temperature.
- Growth and development
- Sexual function
- Sleep-wake cycle
With hormones, a little bit goes a long way. Because of this, minor changes in levels can cause significant changes to your body and lead to certain conditions that require medical treatment”.
Insulin is a fat-storage hormone that facilitates the organs, liver, and fat in absorbing glucose. Made in the pancreas, it makes certain that our blood sugar levels do not get too high. If we have inconsistency in these levels, whether too high or too low, we could develop diabetes. Both my mother and grandmother had diabetes.
Unfortunately, my mother suffered many side effects of the disease and, as a result, had to receive home health care at an early age. Thankfully, they help the severely injured or those with debilitating diseases (like my mom), not just the elderly.
Melatonin is the “sleepy time” hormone. It is produced in the brain, mainly at night, and helps regulate our sleep/wake cycles. With too much blue light from screens and too little darkness, melatonin levels can drop, making it harder to get a good night’s sleep.
Estrogen is the “female” hormone. It’s produced in women’s ovaries and helps the body with pubic hair growth, breast development, hip widening, bone formation, and blood clotting. If low on estrogen, a woman might feel down, and during menopause, women could experience hot flashes, a decrease in libido, and weight gain. Which personally, I have been experiencing this for a couple of years now. Hopefully, I am in the last stretch!
Testosterone is a male hormone that helps with sex drive and building muscles and bones. Low levels can cause weakness, poor sex drive, and erectile dysfunction. Females produce testosterone too, and it helps regulate libido and bone health.
Finally, cortisol is the stress hormone. It kicks in when your body is under stress and helps give you a warning sign. If your cortisol levels are consistently too high, you may be more likely to suffer from anxiety, weight gain, and sleep disturbances.
What are the hormonal imbalance diseases in females?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menstrual disorders, and menopause are all caused by changes to the female hormone system. These conditions can often be associated with metabolic changes causing problems such as irregular periods, ovarian cysts, weight gain, and fertility problems.
Unfortunately, one of my closest, dearest friends has always had a troubling, imbalanced hormone system and, as a result, has suffered many diseases, such as:
- Breast cancer
- High blood pressure
- Poor reproductive system (she was never able to have children)
Because of breast cancer, she not only had to endure a mastectomy, chemo, radiation, two reconstruction surgeries, and surgery on her foot for the chemo-induced neuropathy, but now she is on a hormone blocker as well.
Hormone therapy for cancer uses medicines to block or lower the number of hormones in the body to stop or slow down cancer growth. This therapy stops hormones from being made or prevents hormones from making cancer cells grow and divide. Subsequently, she is suffering many horrendous side effects like:
- Increased bone or tumor pain
- Pain or reddening around the tumor site
- Hot flashes
- Excessive tiredness
- Weight loss
- Stomach cramps
- Loss of sexual desire or ability
She has struggled with depression so much that she feels as though all of these horrendous side effects have significantly affected her quality of life, and she is tired and does not want to continue the “fight.”
It is common for people with cancer to feel sad, anxious, or depressed. Because of this, they may not be the person they were before their diagnosis. Instead, they are confused, worried, and uncertain about who they are.
They need us to just sit and “be” with them. Let them feel their feelings, and don’t try to “make it better” just because you want it to be that way. Sure, it is normal to feel that way. Of course, I want my friend to feel better psychologically and spiritually. She’s been broken, had many surgeries, and had many of the above-mentioned side effects, and still, things don’t seem to be moving in a better direction yet. Hopefully, it does. But it might not, and that sucks.
5 functions of hormones
The fact is our bodies heavily rely on hormones to keep things in balance. Hormones like insulin help store energy in the body, while melatonin assists with getting a good night’s sleep. Either way, these “secret messengers” keep the human body running, and without a proper functioning hormone system, our bodies will eventually cease to function.
Understanding how they work and what happens when there are too little or too many of them can help you stay healthy and happy.