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What Are the Symptoms of a Malfunctioning Hypothalamus?

Reviewed on 12/8/2020

Signs and symptoms of a malfunctioning hypothalamus (hypothalamic dysfunction) usually develop due to various reasons.
Signs and symptoms of a malfunctioning hypothalamus (hypothalamic dysfunction) usually develop due to various reasons.

Signs and symptoms of a malfunctioning hypothalamus (hypothalamic dysfunction) usually develop due to various reasons. Hypothalamic dysfunction may cause the following problems:

If the malfunctioning hypothalamus affects the thyroid, the affected person can get underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Symptoms may include:

If the malfunctioning hypothalamus affects the adrenal glands, symptoms that develop may include:

What is the function of the hypothalamus?

The hypothalamus helps in maintaining the coordination between various systems of the body. Its function includes regulation of various factors:

Another important function of the hypothalamus is to control the pituitary gland, which lies below the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland is an important organ that controls organs such as the adrenal glands, thyroid gland, ovaries, and testes.

What causes malfunctioning of the hypothalamus?

Various conditions can cause the hypothalamus to malfunction. These include:

How is a malfunctioning hypothalamus diagnosed?

To diagnose if the hypothalamus is malfunctioning, laboratory tests are done that examine the patient’s blood and urine for hormones:

Other diagnostic tests include:

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How is a malfunctioning hypothalamus treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of the malfunctioning hypothalamus and the patient's presenting signs and symptoms.

  • Hormonal deficiencies: Hormone replacement therapy (replacing the missing hormones with manmade hormonal pills, for example, levothyroxine tablets for hypothyroidism)
  • Tumors: Surgery or radiation 
  • Nutritional deficiency: Nutritional counseling and medications that control the patient’s appetite
  • Kallmann syndrome: Lifelong sex hormone replacement therapy

What are the complications of a malfunctioning hypothalamus?

Hormonal deficiencies due to a malfunctioning hypothalamus can cause complications such as:

If the cause of a malfunctioning hypothalamus is a brain tumor, the complications can be as follows:

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References
Sanchez Jimenez JG, De Jesus O. Hypothalamic Dysfunction. [Updated 2020 Jul 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560743/

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