Most physicians and scientists agree that the human body is a complex system. And the reason for this shared assertion has a lot to do with hormones. According to a study published by the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center based in Cleveland, Ohio, the body’s endocrine glands secrete around 50 hormones that allow it to function optimally. For context, hormones are chemical messengers that enter the bloodstream and travel to various tissues and organs throughout the body to help regulate growth and development, metabolism, emotions, mood, sexual function, sleep, and several other life-sustaining functions. Of course, this entire process can quickly come to a grinding halt if an individual develops a hormonal imbalance.
When Should You Consider Undergoing a Hormone Test?
When a man or woman develops a hormonal imbalance, it can trigger an array of unpleasant symptoms, some of which include the following:
- Chronic fatigue
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Change in bowel habits
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Muscle pain or stiffness
- Pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints
- Dry skin or skin rashes
- Thinning hair
- Depression, anxiety, and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Profuse sweating
- Changes in appetite or thirst
- Changes in heart rate
Symptoms commonly associated with a hormonal imbalance can sometimes point to other health problems. For this reason, physicians will usually have patients undergo a hormone test if they report experiencing any of the above symptoms before they make an official diagnosis. These tests can look slightly different depending on gender, but they can provide valuable insights relative to a patient’s overall health.
What Does a Hormone Test Entail?
Contrary to popular belief, hormone tests are very straightforward and take only a few minutes to complete. Most physicians will order a blood or saliva test to check for unusually low or abnormally high estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, human growth hormone, or thyroid levels in a patient’s blood. Sometimes, however, they will order X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, and other imaging tests if they suspect a poorly-functioning endocrine gland is a contributing factor when it comes to a patient’s hormonal imbalance.
The Reality of Living With an HGH Deficiency
Now that we are a little more familiar with the role of hormones in the human body, let’s take a closer look at what causes hormonal imbalances: Many hormonal imbalances that men and women develop are age-related, which is to say, the older we get, the more likely we are to encounter them. Below-average human growth hormone (HGH) levels are a prime example. Studies show that after age 30, HGH levels in men and women decline by roughly 15% every decade, which explains why many have a severe HGH deficiency by age 40. Symptoms typical of an HGH deficiency include
- Weight gain, especially around the abdomen
- Anxiety and depression
- Low libido
- Increased sensitivity to heat and cold temperatures
- Less muscle mass
- A decline in strength and stamina
- Low bone density
- High cholesterol
Aside from aging, damage to the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus is one of the primary causes of low HGH levels in the blood. For reference, the hypothalamus is the part of the brain that regulates the pituitary gland, the same gland responsible for releasing growth hormones into the bloodstream. Pituitary tumors and radiation treatments used to treat those tumors can also put individuals at risk of struggling with below-average HGH levels.
In summary, many things can contribute to an HGH deficiency, not to mention other hormonal imbalances. Fortunately, many treatments can help ramp up hormone production and allow individuals to start feeling more like themselves again. That said, the first step in correcting any problem is identifying it. And for a hormonal imbalance, this means taking the appropriate hormone test. To schedule a test or for help finding out which one is right for you, consider speaking with one of our associates today at 205-352-9141.