Unexpected symptoms may be hormonal
Hair loss can signify hormonal issues - here are other symptoms.
In simplest terms, hormones are the chemical messengers that travel in your blood stream telling organs and tissue what to do. They signal the full range of bodily functions, from when you need to use the toilet to how quickly you fall sleep. The glands of the endocrine system send out these messengers to control important functions — such as metabolism, mood and reproduction — kind of like text messages.
When your glands send out too many or too few of these chemical messengers, you might notice changes or start to feel off balance. Hormonal imbalances can impact your lifestyle from increasing feelings of anxiety to putting you at a higher risk for certain conditions.
Throughout adulthood, women go through monthly hormonal flux during their periods and as they enter menopause, however hormonal shifts affect both sexes. Hormone-related conditions can happen to anyone at any age, but they become more prevalent as individuals age.
When your hormones start firing off mixed signals, these are some key symptoms to look for:
1. You’re waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom more frequently.
Nocturia is a medical term for frequent nighttime urination. The reasons can range from the obvious, such as chugging too much water before bedtime, to the underlying, such as hormonal changes. In women, estrogen or the hormone released by the ovaries, plays a major role in the function of the lower urinary tract and the related musculature. Drops in estrogen can lead to increased frequency, urgency and urgency incontinence both at night and during the day. In older men, testosterone deficiency is also associate with nocturia and LUTS (lower urinary tract symptoms).
2. There are more clumps of hair clogging your shower drain.
Hair loss is often caused by hormonal changes. In men, DHT or dihydrotestosterone, is a derivative of testosterone that can cause hair follicles to shrink and become less capable of supporting healthy hair or male pattern baldness. However, unusually high levels of DHT have also been linked to enlarged prostate and prostate cancer, heart disease and reduced healing in skin injuries. While less prevalent, DHT can also cause hair loss in women. For females, thyroid, estrogen and insulin issues can also spur hair loss. During pregnancy, some women experience hair loss because of the spike and plummet of estrogen.
3. Your heart feels like it’s pounding, fluttering or skipping beats.
When a reckless driver cuts you off on the highway, the sudden surge of fear or anxiety triggers the release of hormones which makes your heart race. However, heart palpitations and changes in heart rate can also be triggered by other hormonal imbalances, especially in women. Some women find hormone fluctuations during pregnancy, menopause or even just getting their period can send their tickers into hyper-drive. During menopause, the dip in estrogen has also been linked to an increase risk for heart disease for women.
4. You’re feeling anxious or moody all the time.
Nearly 20% of American adults suffer from an anxiety-related disorder and an added 7% have a major depressive disorder, which translates to around one in four adults facing periods of tension and sadness. Women are twice as susceptible to emotional disorders with a strong link to hormones. Studies have found that females are prone to mood swings during hormonal shifts, such as puberty, menopause and pregnancy. Evidence also suggests that testosterone could have benefits in preventing anxiety and depression. Women have lower levels of testosterone to begin with and men can have decreased amounts as they age, which can increase feelings of unease.
5. You’ve found a lump in your breast
Estrogen is a complex hormone. It is produced by the ovaries and orchestrates sexual and reproductive development, as well as the functioning of the breasts and uterus. It also supports bone health. Women have significantly higher levels of estrogen, but men have some estrogen as well (and vice versa for testosterone). For all its positive roles, estrogen is also linked to a women’s risk of breast cancer. Exposure to high levels of estrogen and progesterone (the other predominate female sex hormone) has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. Factors that can increase risk include early onset of menstruation, late menopause, being older at first pregnancy and never having given birth.
If you suspect your hormones could be trying to tell you something, a medical professional can help decode the mixed signals. For more information, visit Saint Joseph’s Mercy Health System.
Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.