Sunday, April 2, 2017
Understanding Homeostasis & Hormones in the Study of Menopause & the Thyroid
Understanding Homeostasis and Hormones in the Study of:
Menopause and the Thyroid
I find it a lot easier to first learn the words through the dictionary. After that, I like to learn about them. It makes it easier for me to understand them more intricately.
Homeostasis as defined by the oxford dictionaries states:
Noun: The tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.
The process of maintaining homeostasis in humans is regulated by three organs: the kidneys, the liver, and the brain. These regulate the temperature, iron content in our blood, retention and production of energy, and overall blood composition.
To maintain homeostasis means that the body is responding internally to the changes outside, which means like the weather for instance. It is basically the perfect harmony of the proper functioning of the internal organs. However, as I previously mentioned, the main machines who work for us to create this balance are the kidneys, liver, and brain. The kidneys are responsible for controlling blood water levels, reabsorption of substances in blood, and regulation of salt and iron content in the blood. Which also includes, excretion of urea and other wastes which is controlled by the kidneys. On the other hand, the liver performs the functions of stabilizing carbohydrate metabolism and removal of toxic substances. The brain is the big boss of all the functions, controlling the autonomic nervous and endocrine systems, which help in retaining homeostasis. This, in turn determines the metabolism of our body.
If our amazing body is unable to maintain homeostasis, it will eventually cause death. This situation is called homeostatic imbalance. When negative feedback, overpowers, and destructive positive mechanism takes over, a heart attack may occur. This imbalance may also lead to dehydration, diabetes, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia.
I am the proud owner of one of these glycemias, I however did not know there were two different ones. I have the one whereas I get the shakes, and require peanut butter crackers. I have been told on multiple occasions I was borderline diabetic, and I needed to change my eating habits. Every time the doctors and nurses ask me I answer I answer “Uh huh.” When they say “Hypo or hyper.” I don’t have a clue. It was in the eighties when I was diagnosed, and I am not drinking that nasty orange sugar water again and getting sick, it was disgusting!!
Hormones as defined by medicine.net states:
A chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs. Many hormones are secreted by special glands, such as thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Hormones are essential for every activity of life, including the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control. Many hormones, such as neurotransmitters, are active in more than one physical process.
Ugh hormones. The very mention of them, and most generally people will go in different directions. Hormones can happen during pregnancy, and menopause, even during puberty. This why when a man, and a mean a human man hears a woman speaking of hormones, the man will run the other way. To the man, it means ‘escape quick!’ and trust me, if a woman’s hormones are off balance, the man is safest to avoid her in most cases.
For this instance, I am going to speak to you about menopause, and the way hormones work while the female is going through the change of life.
To begin, allow me to introduce menopause to you in a way that you will understand better. The woman is now over the hill, which is usually considered over forty in most cases. However, menopause can affect any woman at many different ages, when stress is involved.
But the thing about menopause is the many ways the body goes through changes. Now for each person, these signs can be different, or the same. It all depends on the person. But in most cases, most women experience: night sweats, depression and or anxiety, hot flashes, irregular and or loss of menstrual cycles, loss of libido, mood swings, change in body odor, irritability, irregular heartbeat, and even sometimes panic disorders.
But this is by far the worst part. Some women even notice hair loss, sleeping disorders, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and even memory loss. There are even other changes to be noted, such as dry skin, dizziness, vaginal dryness, and weight gain.
And the thing is, this is just the body adjusting to getting older. Although scientists and doctors have proven throughout the years that depression can happen to anyone at any age, it afflicts almost nineteen million Americans each year, and up to one in five American women will suffer from clinical depression at some point in her life. Many women first experience symptoms of depression during their twenties and thirties.
Irritability during menopause is most often caused by hormonal changes, which happens when low levels of circulating estrogen have an adverse effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for regulating mood.
When the woman’s estrogen levels drop during perimenopause, collagen production also slows down. Thereby, when the body starts running low on collagen, it shows in the skin, as the skin gets thinner, drier, flakier, and less youthful-looking. Skin dryness leads to pruritus, or itchy skin, a frustrating symptom that can disrupt both women's sleeping and waking lives.
There are four stages in menopause. They are as follows: Early menopause, premenopause, Perimenopause, and postmenopause.
Early menopause is usually when the woman is in their twenties or thirties, premenopause is usually in the thirties to forties, menopause itself is usually in the forties to fifties and then postmenopause is there after which is exactly as it sounds. Right after menopause.
Everyone thinks of hormones as the chemicals that drive our reproductive system, in truth, there are receptors for both estrogen and progesterone throughout our entire body. When these hormone levels begin to decline, as they do in the months and years leading up to menopause, every system that has these hormone receptors registers the change, which includes the most vital organ of all. The brain. And as with any moos disorder, like depression, a disruption in an entire chain of biochemical activity, which in turn affects the production of mood-regulating chemicals, including serotonin and endorphins gets all stirred up.
Your hormones are doing their dance, while the serotonin and endorphins are doing theirs, and all at the same time, your brain is trying to manage everything. In the meantime, the serotonin can’t find their dance partner, and the endorphins get angry with the endorphins, and your hormones get all stirred up and you either end up screaming, or cry, or having a tantrum, because your brain doesn’t know what to do, and neither do you. This is menopause.
You wake up in the morning ready to do the laundry, and then you get started and realize when you look in the mirror that your old, and fat, or gray haired, and life is passing you by, and that you have so many ‘I wish I would’ves’ that you have never done, that when the phone rings, you scream and yell at the telemarketer for no reason. Then you turn on the TV and a show comes on you, and you start crying. When your husband comes home and ask how your day went, you rip into him for never understanding you, and never being there for you. You didn’t mean to, you don’t even know where that came from. This too, is menopause.
Menopause is like losing control of your mind, but watching you in control because, you know what you’re doing, but by the time you do it, it’s too late. It’s your brain working faster than your mouth kind of situation, with a touch of mood swings, and so much more.
However, let it be known, that in most cases menopause is a normal stage of life. I tried to find out if there has ever been a case whereas a woman has never had any signs or menopause at all, but I couldn’t find anything. I however, don’t think any of my search engines understood what I was searching for.
The next hormone problem I would like to discuss with you, is yet another problem I face.
The thyroid is a small, gland located at the base of the neck just below the Adam's apple. It’s part of an intricate network of glands called the endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for coordinating many of the body's activities. The thyroid gland manufactures hormones that regulate the body's metabolism (this is the process by which the body creates and uses energy). There are several different disorders that can arise when the thyroid produces too much hormone (hyperthyroidism) or not enough (hypothyroidism). You may recall me mentioning these earlier in this paper, now perhaps we may get to understand them better.
There are four common thyroid disorders which include: Hashimoto's disease, Graves' disease, goiter, and thyroid nodules.
These are the signs for Hashimoto’s disease:
Include: Fatigue, depression, constipation, mild weight gain, dry skin, dry, thinning hair, pale, puffy face, heavy and irregular menstruation, intolerance to cold, enlarged thyroid (goiter)
The signs for Graves’ disease:
Include: anxiety, irritability, fatigue, hand tremors, increased or irregular heartbeat, excessive sweating, difficulty sleeping, diarrhea or frequent bowel movements, altered menstrual cycle, enlarged thyroid (goiter), bulging eyes and vision problems.
The signs for a goiter:
Include: swelling/tightness in the neck, breathing and/or swallowing difficulties, coughing or wheezing, hoarseness of voice
The signs of thyroid nodules:
Include: high pulse rate, nervousness, increased appetite, tremors, weight loss, clammy skin
What is hypothyroidism?
Per the oxford dictionary:
Noun: Abnormally low activity of the thyroid gland, resulting in retardation of growth and mental development in children and adults.
What is hyperthyroidism?
Per the oxford dictionary:
Noun: Over activity of the thyroid gland, resulting in a rapid heartbeat and an increased rate of metabolism.
Ok so what is metabolism for those of who don’t know?
Per the oxford dictionary:
Noun: The chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) symptoms include the following: Fatigue, Increased sensitivity to cold, Constipation, Dry skin, Weight gain, Puffy face, Hoarseness, Muscle weakness, Elevated blood cholesterol level, Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints, Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods, Thinning hair, Slowed heart rate, Depression, and last but not least impaired memory.
Hyperthyroidism symptoms include the following: weight loss, hair falling out, warm, red, itchy skin, loose bowel movements, sweat a lot, irregular heartbeat, nervous, moody, weak or tired.
My question to anyone reading this is as follows: with so many ailments and disorders, researching what is wrong with one’s self is impossible. You hear things on the television about prescriptions, and sometimes they scare you out of taking them, like ‘flushing!’ So many prescriptions today have that affect. Like, what is that? You take it and you’re going to flush your toilet all day? I mean seriously!
Personally, I have depression and am on depression medications and have been on them since I was eighteen. For the last….hmmm… I would have to guess around maybe nine years they have finally found a medication that has stabilized me. Now mind you, I still need and want someone to talk to. My husband works two jobs and is barely home. My children are raised and no longer home. I am alone ninety percent of the time. Maybe the aloneness is starting to get to me, I don’t know. I do keep a diary too. But on top of that, I have a thyroid disorder, I am obese, and I have one of those thyroidisms too. I also am in menopause. Maybe post by now, who knows. I haven’t had a menstrual cycle in like ten years now, and yay! But all the symptoms I read putting this paper together, do you know how many I have? I have arthritis, I’m 52 man! My body hurts! What do you expect, not to mention I’m fat! I have a hip replacement, two knees replaced, an ankle and a shoulder. But I am not one of those people that when you say it, “Oh! Oh! That’s wrong with me too!” I am not my grandmother and I am not a hypochondriac.
However, after doing this assignment, I did realize one thing. Hormones and your brain have a lot to do with one another, and it is no wonder that when a woman’s body goes through things like menopause, child birth and pregnancy, and even their menstrual cycle, as well the common thyroid problems, that it takes a toll on the human body. It is causing turmoil, and confusing the brain, and the body, and sending mixed messages, so that signals are getting crossed and therefore the end reaction is a system blow out. The human body is an amazing thing, very delicate, very intricate, and so masterful, one should not be so shocked and upset when a woman blows a gasket. Look at how complex we are, we give birth to tiny little humans. We do such much! We should be allowed to blow a gasket once in a while, I’m just sayin…
Before I close, you wanted to know to know how homeostasis would affect my choice in hormone studies? With menopause, as I stated, if the woman is introduced to stress, the menopause, or pre or permenopause will and can come sooner. As for thyroid conditions, the environment can affect these as well. It is as with anything. It is how we eat, and what life choices we make. Now, I don’t mean life choices as in whom we marry. I mean life choices as in, do we take care of ourselves. Like for instance: do you live on the streets, or do you live in a home? Do you live in a home, or a dungeon not being fed? Do you live in a country, or nation where the people are starving? These environmental issues will affect anything and everything in the outlook and outcome on the growth, and lifestyle, and way that your body chooses to develop. It is best to take care of your body like it is the only one you will ever have, because it is. Treat it like it is gold, and put only the best things into it, make it last longer. If it were a new car, would you wash it daily and put special fuel into it? Yes? Then why not your body?
BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
Martin, Raquel. The Estrogen Alternative. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000.