87 Early Warning Signs You Have a Hormone Out of Balance (and how to tell WHICH one)

The Hearty Soul

87 Early Warning Signs You Have a Hormone Out of Balance (and how to tell WHICH one)

Hormones regulate your body—each one sends signals to your organs which regulates your mood, energy levels, weight, temperature, and so many other aspects of your health. Often, what our hormones do for us aren’t appreciated or even recognized, until they stop working. When they’re not working as well as they should be, so many problems occur.

How are hormones produced?

Hormones are produced by our body’s major endocrine glands like the brain (more specifically, the hypothalamus and pineal and pituitary glands), thyroid, adrenals, reproductive glands and pancreas, among many others.

How it all works

It’s all about having the right balance. Hormone levels can’t be too high or too low, they must be at just the right level in order to operate efficiently. Otherwise, hormonal imbalances can lead to a myriad of health issues.

Mainstream medicine typically runs basic labs for hormone health. If your labs don’t come back “normal,” you’re typically given synthetic hormone medications that typically have side effects. If those labs come back “normal” and you’re still experiencing symptoms, you may be told you’re depressed, getting old, or are overweight.

Common hormone problems

Below are some of the most common hormone problems I see in patients. You might be experiencing some of them yourself, so I’ll also explain which labs you may want to consider asking your doctor about:

1. Cortisol

Our adrenal glands secrete several hormones, and one of them is cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Adrenal fatigue happens when there’s an imbalance in this cortisol rhythm: cortisol is high when it should be low, low when it should be high, always high or always low. Adrenal fatigue is really a dysfunction of your brain’s communication with your adrenals — not the adrenal glands themselves. Because adrenal fatigue is mainly a brain stress problem, the solution focuses on minimizing chronic stressors.

What You Might Experience:

  • You’re slow to start in the morning

  • Cravings for salty or sugary foods

  • Low sex drive

  • You’re fatigued in the afternoon but get a “second wind” in the evening

  • Can’t stay asleep

  • Dizziness when standing up quickly

  • Afternoon headaches

  • Blood sugar issues

  • Chronic inflammation

  • Nails are weak

  • Often moody

  • Difficulty losing weight

  • The Labs: I run a 24-Hour Adrenal Stress Index, a salivary test that tracks your cortisol levels and HPA (brain-adrenal) axis quality.

2. Thyroid

hair loss hormone

Every cell of your body needs thyroid hormones to function healthily. There are many underlying thyroid problems that won’t show up on standard labs. For example: thyroid conversion issues, thyroid resistance or autoimmune attacks against the thyroid (Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease).

What You Might Experience:

  • Feeling tired

  • Feeling cold in your hands, feet, or all over

  • Requiring excessive amounts of sleep to function properly

  • Weight gain, even with a low-calorie diet

  • Difficult, infrequent bowel movements

  • Depression or lack of motivation

  • Morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses

  • Outer third of eyebrow is thin

  • Thinning of hair on scalp

  • Excessive hair falling out

  • Dry skin

  • Mental sluggishness

The Labs: Mainstream medicine typically just runs TSH and T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to determine thyroid hormone dosage. A functional medicine thyroid panel involves looking at many other labs such as Free and Total T3 (active thyroid hormone), Reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies to rule out autoimmune thyroid problems. For a full list of thyroid labs and how to interpret them, read “Why Your Lab Results Could Be Lying About Your Thyroid Health.”

3. Estrogen

The ratio of the three forms of estrogen [estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), estriol (E3)] is important for both women and men. Some research has linked estrogen imbalances to increased mortality rates in those with heart disease, as well as the progression of some cancers.

What You Might Experience With Not Enough Estrogen:

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Night sweats

  • Painful sex

  • Brain fog

  • Recurrent bladder infections

  • Feeling lethargic

  • Depression

  • Hot flashes

What You Might Experience With Too Much Estrogen:

  • Feeling puffy and bloated

  • Rapid weight gain

  • Breast tenderness

  • Mood swings

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

  • Feeling anxious and/or depressed

  • Migraine headaches

  • Have had cervical dysplasia (abnormal pap smear)

  • Insomnia

  • Brain fog

  • Gallbladder problems

  • Weepy and emotional

The Labs: A full blood and salivary female hormone panel, including all estrogen isomers.

4. Progesterone

Both men and women need healthy progesterone balance. Progesterone helps to balance and neutralize the effects of excess estrogen. Without optimal progesterone, estrogen becomes harmful and out of control.

What You Might Experience:

  • PMS

  • Insomnia

  • Unhealthy looking skin

  • Painful breasts

  • Stubborn weight gain

  • Cyclical headaches

  • Anxiety

  • Infertility

The Labs: A full blood and salivary female hormone panel.

5. Testosterone

hormone imbalance

In both men and women, low testosterone is common. Low testosterone in women has been linked in some studies to low sex drive, heart disease, and breast cancer. One study found that men with low testosterone had a higher death rate.

What Women Might Experience With Too Much Testosterone:

  • Acne

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  • Excessive hair on the face and arms

  • Hypoglycemia and/or unstable blood sugar

  • Thinning hair

  • Infertility

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Mid-cycle pain/cramping

What Women Might Experience With Not Enough Testosterone:

What Men Might Experience:

Men don’t produce estrogen like women, but convert it through a process called aromatization. Excess activity of the enzyme aromatase can cause low testosterone and high estrogen in men resulting in the following:

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Low sex drive

  • Weight gain

  • Irritability

  • Breast enlargement

The Labs: Blood and saliva testosterone and DHEA panel.

6. Leptin

Despite their negative stigma, fat cells play a really important part of your endocrine (hormonal) system by producing a hormone called leptin. Leptin controls how the body stores its fat for energy use. If Leptin is not recognized by the body, it creates a leptin resistance causing your body to go into starvation mode and store more fat.

What You Might Experience:

The Labs: Serum leptin.

7. Insulin

Just like leptin resistance, insulin resistance is not a hormonal deficiency but a hormonal resistance pattern. Most people know insulin resistance when it comes to type 2 diabetes, but insulin resistance is also seen in many people who have not progressed to the full-blown diabetic disease.

This pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome is marked by this resistance to insulin. This means your body is producing insulin but your body is not using it properly. The problem here is the insulin is a fat-storing hormone, which makes weight loss an uphill battle for many.

What You Might Experience:

  • Cravings for sweets

  • Irritableness if meals are missed

  • Dependence on coffee

  • Become lightheaded if meals are missed

  • Feel shaky, jittery, or having tremors

  • Agitated, easily upset, or nervous

  • Poor memory

  • Blurred vision

  • Fatigue after meals

  • Eating sweets doesn’t relieve sugar cravings

  • Waist girth is equal or larger than hip girth

  • Frequent urination

  • Increased thirst and appetite

  • Difficulty losing weight

The Labs: Serum insulin, c-peptide, fasting blood sugar, and HgbA1c.

Do keep in mind that because the body is very much so interconnected, it’s likely that if you’re suffering from one hormone problem, you’ll have other ones as well. That being said, it’s important to talk to a health care professional if you think you’re at risk.

This article was republished with permission from mindbodygreen.com.

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