Have you been breaking out into a sweat with your face turning red for up to a minute? Or have you been experiencing a sudden rapid heartbeat, hair loss or unexplained anxiety?
One of the reasons for these conditions could possibly be a hormone imbalance in your body. But before we get into what you should do about this condition, we need to understand what exactly hormones are and what happens during hormonal imbalance.
“Hormones are natural chemicals present within the cells of the body that travel through the bloodstream to different organs and tissues. They are produced by glands in the endocrine system. Hormone production decreases naturally over time, and while the production of certain hormones decreases, there may be an overproduction of other hormones within the body, thus resulting in hormonal imbalances,” says Dr Minal Vohra, medical advisor at BeatO, Delhi, which is a smart diabetes care and management app.
The reason hormones are so important is because they help regulate one’s metabolism and appetite, heart rate, sleep cycles, reproductive cycles and sexual function, general growth and development, mood and stress levels and body temperature.
Hormonal imbalance can therefore affect a wide range of body functions. Men and women alike can be affected by imbalances in insulin, steroids, growth hormones, and adrenaline.
“Estrogen is a hormone that helps regulate the menstrual cycle while progesterone is essential for a healthy pregnancy. The most common hormonal imbalance among women of all ages is progesterone deficiency while estrogen deficiency is common among menopausal women. Men are more likely to experience imbalances in testosterone levels,” explains Dr Vohra.
But what are the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
Common symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women include insomnia, anxiety, hot flashes, increased sweating, rapid weight gain or weight loss, hair loss, acne, etc.
Low testosterone levels in men may lead to reduced sex drive and erectile dysfunction. They may experience reduced sense of well-being, depressed or anxious feeling and difficulty concentrating. A reduction in body hair may also be noted. Weight gain may be seen and some men may report increased breast tissue (gynecomastia).
There are different treatment options available for hormone imbalances. Treatment usually depends on the cause and specific needs of the patient.
“Hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) is one such treatment option, in which medication containing estrogen or progesterone prescribed by doctors helps replace the hormones that are deficient within the ovaries. Such treatment can be given through pills, patches or creams,” says Dr K K Aggarwal, who is based in Delhi and is the president of the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI).
“Maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle also helps in relieving the symptoms of hormonal imbalance. For low testosterone levels in men, testosterone replacement, usually by deep intramuscular (IM) injection, is often prescribed,” advises Dr Aggarwal.