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Hormonal dysfunction is a he alth problem in which there is an increase or decrease in the production of hormones related to metabolism or reproduction. In some women the dysfunction can be hormone related and is usually linked to menstruation and produce symptoms such as weight gain, acne and excess body hair. In men, hormonal dysfunctions are usually related to testosterone, causing symptoms of erectile dysfunction or infertility, for example.
Hormones are chemical substances produced by the glands and circulate through the bloodstream acting on different tissues and organs in the body. The symptoms of hormonal dysfunction depend on the gland that is affected and the diagnosis is laboratory based on assessing the amount of hormone in the bloodstream.
If you present any of the symptoms of hormonal dysfunction, it is important to consult a doctor to start the most appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
1. Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism
The thyroid is a gland located in the neck under the Adam's apple and produces thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), responsible for controlling metabolism in the body, in addition to influencing various body functions such as heart rate, fertility, bowel rhythm and calorie burning. Another hormone that may be altered and that influences the thyroid is thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid decreases the production of its hormones, causing symptoms such as tiredness, sleepiness, hoarse voice, intolerance to cold, constipation, weak nails and weight gain. In more advanced cases, swelling of the face and eyelids, called myxedema, may occur.
In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid increases the production of its hormones causing symptoms such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia and weight loss. In more severe cases, projection of the eyeballs may occur, called exophthalmos.
Learn more about symptoms of thyroid problems.
What to do: in case of symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, an endocrinologist should be evaluated. Treatment is usually with thyroid hormones, such as levothyroxine, for example. For women over 35 years old and men over 65 years old, it is recommended to carry out preventive exams every 5 years. Pregnant women and newborns should also have preventive exams.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the pancreas slows down or stops producing the hormone insulin, which is responsible for removing glucose from the bloodstream and taking it to the cells to perform their functions.
Symptoms of diabetes mellitus include increased glucose in the bloodstream because the pancreas does not produce insulin, which causes increased thirst, increased urge to urinate, increased hunger, blurred vision, drowsiness, and nausea.
What to do: you should follow a diet guided by a doctor or nutritionist, physical activity, lose weight and follow up closely with an endocrinologist. The treatment of diabetes mellitus often requires an injection of insulin, but only a doctor can prescribe it because doses are personalized for each person. Learn more about diabetes mellitus.
3. Polycystic ovary syndrome
The most common hormonal dysfunction in women is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, related to the increase in the hormone testosterone, leading to the production of cysts in the ovaries and usually starts at puberty.
These cysts are responsible for symptoms such as acne, lack of menstruation or irregular menstruation and increased amount of hair on the body. In addition, they can increase a woman's stress and cause infertility. Learn more about polycystic ovary syndrome.
What to do: Polycystic ovary syndrome treatment is based on relieving symptoms, regulating menstruation or treating infertility. Contraceptives are usually used, but follow-up with a gynecologist is necessary.
Menopause is the stage in a woman's life when there is an abrupt decrease in estrogen production leading to the end of menstruation, which marks the end of a woman's reproductive phase. It usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can happen early, before age 40.
The most common symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, decreased sexual desire, vaginal dryness and difficulty concentrating. In addition, menopause can cause osteoporosis, which is characterized by increased bone fragility.
What to do: hormone replacement may be necessary, however, only the gynecologist is able to assess the need for hormone replacement, as in some cases it is contraindicated, such as suspected or diagnosed breast cancer.Learn more about hormone replacement treatment.
Andropause, also called androgen deficiency syndrome, is considered as male menopause, which is a natural process of the body in which there is a gradual decrease in testosterone production.
Symptoms of andropause can occur at any age, but is more common after age 40 and include decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, decreased testicle volume, decreased muscle strength and mass, insomnia and swelling of the breasts. Learn more about andropause.
What to do: Often no treatment is necessary as the symptoms are subtle. Some simple measures like a balanced diet and moderate physical activity can help testosterone levels return to normal. However, it is important to do evaluation and follow-up with the urologist to help reduce symptoms.
How the diagnosis is made
The diagnosis of hormonal disorders is based on symptoms and laboratory tests through the measurement of hormones in the blood.
In some cases, ultrasound may be performed, such as thyroid ultrasound, to investigate nodules, and in polycystic ovary syndrome, transvaginal ultrasound. In andropause, ultrasound of the testicles or sperm analysis may be necessary.