Health Team

Hormone imbalance could be culprit in many common health issues

Posted June 14, 2016 11:11 a.m. EDT
Updated June 14, 2016 11:38 a.m. EDT

Many women often feel bloated, irritable or just not at their best, but they can't explain why. It could be a hormone imbalance.

Hormones are chemical messengers that affect the way cells and organs work. If your hormone levels change at different times of life, such as after periods or pregnancy or in menopause, that's to be expected.

However, as the experts at Web MD say, hormone levels can also be affected by medications or other health issues.

Irregular periods in women might be a sign of low estrogen and progesterone hormone levels. It could be a sign of perimenopause for women in their 40s or early 50s. It could also be a symptom of health issues, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome.

A lack of sound sleep might be caused by low progesterone, which makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Low estrogen can also trigger hot flashes and night sweats.

Too much progesterone, though, can make you feel sleepy when it's not bedtime, and low thyroid gland hormones can also cause a lack of energy. A simple blood test can confirm the problem and help you get treatment.

Chronic acne can be linked to hormone levels, too. Too much androgen stimulates oil glands in your skin also affects skin cells around hair follicles.

Changes in estrogen and progesterone can make your head feel foggy and affect your memory, which is normal during perimenopause and menopause. The symptoms, though, can also be due to thyroid disease, so it's important to see a doctor.

High or low estrogen and progesterone levels can also cause digestive issues like diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating and nausea. Drops in hormone levels or fast changes in levels can lead to mood swings and depression.

Estrogen affects key brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, but other hormones may also play a role.

Drops in estrogen levels can lead to women wanting to eat more. It can also affect your body's level of leptin, which stimulates hunger.

Another common hormonal issue can be linked to headaches and other issues. Many women also notice changes in their breast density, even lumps or cysts. With any or several of these symptoms, it's always a good idea to let a doctor know.

Some of the symptoms are treatable, though. Doctors can prescribe medications to help with hormone imbalance. For example, menopausal women can be prescribed small doses of estrogen to help with hot flashes associated with the shrinking of the ovaries provided there is no evidence of issues like breast cancer or heart disease.

Thyroid hormone can be prescribed for the fatigue and lethargy associated with low thyroid levels.

For people who are looking to lose weight, the diabetes medicine Victoza, which contains a medication similar to the hormone GLP-1, can make people less hungry, block the liver from making excess sugar and regulate insulin.

See your doctor for more information.