Like the nervous system, the endocrine system is involved in communication and control between the body’s various organ systems. Hormones are produced in the body by organs called glands which release hormones in order to send messages to other organs. Hormone levels fluctuate and these fluctuations affect the function of the target organs that the hormones serve. Hormone imbalances are sometimes treated with surgery or radiation targeting the gland in question. Drugs are also sometime helpful in correcting hormone imbalances.
Thyroid Hormone Replacement
When a gland is producing insufficient amounts of hormone, synthetic hormone replacements prescribed by a doctor are sometimes the solution. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that hypothyroidism is a condition wherein hormone production is lower than normal. In cases of hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland has not supplied the body with sufficient thyroxine or triiodothyronine, hormones that are essential for regulating rates of metabolism. Supplementation with synthetic thyroid hormone gives the patient relief from the fatigue, constipation and cold intolerance that is typical of hypothyroidism. It does not, however, address the causes of hypothyroidism. This condition is incurable, and hormone replacement therapy must continue throughout the patient’s life in order to maintain proper hormone balance.
Hypopituitarism occurs when the pituitary gland fails to supply the body with adequate amounts of one or more of the hormones that it normally produces. The pituitary gland produces a number of hormones that influence other glands to secrete what are called target hormones. According to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, the target hormones that are produced by other glands are most commonly replaced, rather than the actual pituitary hormones 1. Growth hormone is the only hormone produced by the pituitary gland that is replaced. Growth hormone is administered by injection to children with growth hormone deficiencies to prevent stunted growth while adults are injected with growth hormone to increase bone density and improve body composition.
A number of hormone therapies are used to treat sexually relevant hormonal imbalances. The University of Maryland Medical center states that medroxyprogesterone is used for the hormonal imbalances that cause irregular menstrual periods. Hormonal imbalances leading to infertility in women are sometimes treated with ovulation inducing drugs such as gonadotrophins. MayoClinic.com adds that male hypogonadism is treated with male hormone replacement drugs, a process known as testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT 2. These drugs can be administered through injection, transdermal patches, or topically applied gels.
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