People don’t give much thought to hormones once they get through puberty. That’s that age when people seem to justify everything an adolescent says or does with:
“Oh, it’s just all those hormones.”
But hormones don’t just go into hibernation for the rest of your life once you reach adulthood. You may not be able to feel the effects of a hormonal imbalance quite like you do a nail through your foot or a broken nose, but hormones are still present and active.
In fact, five organs control and excrete the level of hormones found in the body at any one time. These include: the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, kidneys, pancreas and the gonads. The pituitary gland, which is essentially the center of all things hormonal, controls all five glands by communicating when and how to act. The entire set of glands act together to make up the endocrine system.
The pituitary gland is a tiny, pea-sized organ located in the brain. It connects the mind to the body in a very literal way. When the pituitary senses a need for a hormonal excretion, it sends signals to the other part or parts of the endocrine system to get the job done.
For example, the pituitary will send signals to your thyroid gland whenever your metabolism needs to be revved up or slowed down. All thyroid glands operate a bit differently from person to person. Just like some houses have seven TVs using electricity and others only have the light that they read by.
However, when the thyroid is imbalanced even for you, two things can occur. Hyperthyroidism, a condition that throws your thyroid gland into overdrive will cause rapid weight loss, fatigue, increased appetite, trouble sleeping and brittle hair. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid seems to have gone on permanent stand-by status. Increased weight gain, sensitivity to cold and muscle aches are all signs and symptoms. Genetically overweight families can attribute their battle with the scale to the lack of hustle their thyroid gland is showing.
Stress is controlled by hormones, as well. The adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, control the cortisol output, produce estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and adrenaline. Needless to say, adrenal glands have their work cut out for them. When more or less of these hormones are produced, bad things can happen. For example, excess of cortisol can cause weight gain, facial hair (ok, if you’re a guy, not so becoming on a woman) and acne. Buffalo hump is also caused by elevated cortisol levels. In case you don’t know, Buffalo hump refers to an excess of fat gathering between the shoulders.
The kidneys produce a hormone responsible for red blood cell creation and also protect other tissue cells from effects of lack of oxygen. While the pancreas aids in the digestive process by producing insulin. It takes the glucose that enters your blood stream after you’ve had a meal and carries it through your body so it can be used as fuel. Both organs play an important role, and if either fails, consequences are serious.
Finally, a word you probably haven’t heard since you graduated grade school – the gonads. We all have them, males and females alike and they are, of course, our sex glands. In men, they produce sperm, cause facial hair and change voices from high and squeaky to low and man-like. While in women, the glands are located in the ovaries and produces the egg.