Monday, September 19, 2011

What Is the Hypothalamus Gland?

The hypothalamus is an endocrine gland located in the limbic region of the brain. The limbic region is associated with emotional processing, behaviors, the sense of smell, and long term memory abilities. This single gland has an effect on many different body functions including:

• Mood
• Hunger and thirst
• Sex drive
• Sleep
• Body temperature
• Stimulate or inhibit hormones from other endocrine glands
• Metabolism

The brain has a special artery, known as the hypophyseal portal system, used by the hypothalamus to send hormones directly to the anterior pituitary gland. This is an important feature since it causes the pituitary to release or decrease stimulating hormones that are used throughout the other anatomical features of the endocrine system. The proper function of the pituitary is vital to the health and regulation of the many systems within the body. The pituitary influences the ovaries and testes, as well as the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland.

When there is a dysfunction of the hypothalamus there is a cascade effect that occurs because of the heavy reliance upon this one gland to balance the endocrine system. This can result in problems throughout the body.

A breakdown in the ability of this gland can result in hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, low gonad function, and an imbalance of growth hormones due to the poor communication with the pituitary. These conditions can cause heart problems, infertility and impotence, osteoporosis, weakness, and diminished stature, as well as many other health complications.

With a strong correlation of the features in the endocrine system, it can be difficult to determine the symptoms of which have manifested as a result of a dysfunction of the hypothalamus. The symptoms can be general and vague such as constipation, fatigue, moodiness, difficulty thermal regulating, weight gain or loss, changes in menstrual cycle, or a diminished sexual drive. All of these conditions can be the result of other endocrine gland problems or the hypothalamus itself, further illustrating the closely intertwining relation of this system. It is necessary to have testing done to determine the exact cause of the problem.

Hypothalamus dysfunction can be triggered from eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, malnutrition, or excessive iron intake. If the individual is experiencing chronic bleeding, infections, or inflammation it can cause difficulty in the regulation of hormone levels resulting in symptoms. There are certain medical procedures such as surgery and radiation which can affect the limbic region of the brain. Occasionally people may even suffer from genetic disorders or abnormal growths which may predispose them to this condition.

After testing, which may include blood work or radiology such as an MRI, a medical treatment plan can be established. The endocrine system is like a pyramid with the hypothalamus at the top and its effects are gradually spread through many other anatomical features. For this reason, the testing performed can be superficial in an effort to address the immediate issue. As an example, if an individual has hypothyroidism that is what the treatment and testing focuses on, unless there is an additional complication the hypothalamus is not targeted.

When symptoms are the result of hormonal imbalances, there are many different supplements that can be taken to correct the problem associated with the specific deficiency. If the condition arises from infection, inflammation or bleeding there are treatments designed to address those issues. In the event there is a tumor which is creating the dysfunction, surgical options or radiation may be required. As previously noted, the symptom is addressed as it pertains to the specific endocrine gland that triggers the hormonal problem.

In general, despite its effect on many other organs and glands, a condition involving the hypothalamus maintains a good health outlook for the person suffering with these problems when provided appropriate medical care.

Despite its effect on many other organs and glands, a condition involving the hypothalamus maintains a good health outlook for the person suffering with these problems when provided appropriate medical care. Consider the HCG diet. With pure hcg drops you can lose up to 1-2 pounds a day and you will keep it off.

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