Hormones are the ultimate chemical messengers, constantly communicating information to every area of our body, adapting, and responding to our many complex needs. Produced by our endocrine glands—adrenals, thyroid, pancreas and ovaries or testes—hormones execute essential functions, relay important warnings, and communicate constantly. Essentially, they assure everything is running smoothly. However, due to stress, changes in health, age, environmental factors, disease, prescription drugs, diet, and many other factors, our specific hormone levels and function can be easily thrown off balance.
Many people go years thinking their symptoms are just part of “a busy life” or stress. Stress can make you feel bad, but what you may not know is that, over time, chronic stress process can cause your hormones to be thrown off course. This hormone imbalance is the underlying cause of many symptoms, and often will need proper testing, evaluation, and treatment to restore normal levels.
Identifying and correcting these levels early helps maintain health, energy, longevity, and prevents the onset of chronic disease.
Here are the top 5 common signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalances:
- Weight gain, and weight fluctuations
Research shows that hypothyroidism, or low-thyroid function, affects one in five women and one in ten men, and that is suspected to be an underestimation. Unfortunately, this condition isn’t diagnosed in over half of these cases. The thyroid hormone affects practically every cell in the body and regulates our entire metabolic rate. Therefore, excess weight can often point to a slow and underactive thyroid gland, which in turn has caused all metabolic processes to slow down.
In addition, if Cortisol is constantly elevated (seen in many people with stress), in efforts to keep you going, cortisol will directly impact your blood sugar levels by signaling your body to consume more calories and store more fat. Insulin, another weight hormone influencer, regulates your blood sugar levels by being secreted in response to glucose (the basic “sugar” compound). Having too much estrogen or not enough progesterone can also be the driving force behind weight gain. These are just a few examples of how hormones change the body, which become pretty complex – as you can see.
The reality is, many women struggle… despite cutting back on certain foods, working out, doing “everything they should be doing” or even “working twice as hard” to see a small budge. If you find yourself in that category, it may be time to seek out answers and see one of our Peak Medical Providers for labs and thorough evaluation, and treatment options.
- Insomnia, persisting fatigue, or BOTH
There are many reasons why someone may be having difficulty sleeping. But if it’s persistent, it’s likely related to your hormones. In addition, people with hormonal imbalances often experience extreme fatigue. Everyone is tired sometimes, but with adequate rest, hydration, and a balanced diet, the fatigue should subside.
If you feel like you are sleeping adequate amounts or maybe even sleeping too much and can’t seem to shake the constant feeling of exhaustion, you may consider having a comprehensive evaluation of your hormone levels. The fatigue could be associated with your hormones. Adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism are more prevalent in our fast-paced society than you may think.
- Skin and hair changes
The quality and vitality of your skin and hair is directly related to your hormones. Think of your body as a symphony and your hormones as the instruments. Those instruments, your hormones, must play together in sync in order to have a glowing complexion. When even one is off balance, you can begin developing skin problems such as dryness, acne, fine lines, wrinkles, and rosacea. Thyroid abnormalities, for example, may cause dry hair or skin, thinning hair, hair loss or brittle nails.
- Low sex drive
It’s no secret that your levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone naturally decline with age, especially during and after menopause. But did you know that they can also be too low or too high for both men and women, and can affect people of all ages? Low levels of estrogen, for example, can have a big impact on your sex drive. You may experience vaginal dryness that can lead to painful intercourse and you may have unstable mood and sleep patterns. Testosterone also is a big factor in libido. Primarily thought of as a male hormone, it is also made by, and just as important to women. Testosterone levels naturally decline in women after menopause, low levels can contribute to the reduction of arousal and sexual response. Progesterone can also have a big impact on your drive and should be evaluated when detecting hormonal imbalances.
Chronic stress has become an epidemic in today’s society. We are exposed to more information than ever before. Excess adrenal stimulation is what we are gaining from this constant overload of stress. Neuroendocrinology is the study of the close relationship between neurotransmitters and hormones, including those produced by the adrenal glands. What you may not know is that, cortisol and norepinephrine, produced and released by the adrenal glands, often underlie the feelings that you may perceive as anxiety. So what many perceive as anxiety and as being all “in their head”, may be an endocrine imbalance. Many people may want a quick fix with an anti-anxiety prescription. They can go a long time without ever exploring if there is another underlying problem that could be treated, all while tackling a new set of problems from medication side effects. Anxiety does not always go hand in hand with a hormone imbalance, but is a top symptom of an imbalance and should be evaluated, especially if other hormonal imbalance symptoms are present.
Our Peak Medical Clinic providers can help you to understand and resolve these imbalances. Hormone management is a delicate and complex matter. Ensuring you are getting tested, evaluated, and treated by a specialized provider can be a big game-changer to your quality of life. Our providers understand hormone imbalance is multifaceted and that thorough evaluation, along with the use of teaching/educating, labs/tests, proper diet, supplements, and natural therapies, should be offered to optimize maximum health and healing. To learn more about our clinics, services, and providers visit us at https://www.peakmedicalclinic.com/ Wishing you health, balance, and vitality!
-Kenz J. RN, BSN