Thyroid is a small gland which has the shape like a butterfly that sits low on the front of the neck. Itis a vital hormone gland which plays a major role in the metabolism, growth and development of the human body. In other words, it helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. Thyroid Gland is a part of an endocrine system.
Thyroid gland produces two type of hormones T3 and T4. These hormones are necessary for all the cells in your body to work normally.
T3 – Triiodothyronine: This hormone contains three atoms of iodine and is often called T3.
T4 – Thyroxine: This hormone contains four atoms of iodine and is often called T4.
A normal thyroid gland produces about 80% (T4) and about 20% (T3). When the level of hormones drops very low, your heart rate may slower than normal and if it shoots up high then you may have a rapid heart rate. Therefore, to balance T3 and T4 hormones TSH plays a vital role.
TSH is produced by a gland in the brain called pituitary gland. When hormone levels are low in your body then pituitary gland makes more TSH and when hormone levels are high pituitary gland makes less TSH. In other words, TSH levels that are too high or too low can indicate your thyroid is not working properly.
There are specific kinds of thyroid disorders that includes:
Hair loss can occur when your thyroid gland is not working correctly.
Thyroid is a small gland which has the shape like a butterfly that sits low on the front of the neck. It helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream.
The important hormones produced by thyroid gland are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)
Furthermore, thyroid conditions occur when your thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones Or producing too much of hormones. The most common type of thyroid conditions are as following:
Both conditions (Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism) can cause dry, brittle hair or thinning hair on your scalp and body.
The Link Between Thyroid Conditions and Hair Loss
Thyroid conditions can cause hair loss if they are severe and left untreated. But, before understanding how these conditions cause hair loss, let us first understand the hair growth process.
Hair starts growing from the roots (bottom of your hair follicles) on your scalp.
Your scalp’s blood vessels provide nutrients to the root and help in hair growth.
Hair pushes up and out through your skin. The hair passes through the oil glands that help maintain the required moisture in the hair.
Hair grows for sometime and then falls off as a new hair growth cycle starts.
Kindly note, the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) directly affect hair growth and its development. When the hormone production is disturbed, it can lead to hair thinning across your scalp and other areas such as your eyebrows.
Hair loss due to Autoimmune thyroid disease
Most people with Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism have autoimmune thyroid disease. If someone has one type of autoimmune disease, he/she is more likely to develop another autoimmune condition for example:
Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss in people having autoimmune thyroid disease.
It causes circular patches of hair loss in more discrete areas. In most cases this is temporary and does not progress, but unfortunately it can cause significant baldness.
There are other rare autoimmune conditions that can also cause hair loss :
Some antithyroid drugs such as (carbimazole and propylthiouracil) can, in rare cases, cause hair loss. But, it may be very difficult to tell whether the drug or your thyroid condition is causing hair loss.
Furthermore, it is very rare for anti-thyroid drugs or treatment to cause hair loss. Kindly note, Antithyroid drugs are used to treat an overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroidism).
Symptoms of Thyroid Related Hair Loss
Slow and gradual thinning of hair is the most common symptom of thyroid related hair loss. You may notice more than usual hair lose while combing.
Furthermore, hair loss may develop slowly with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. You won’t necessarily see patches or bald spots on your scalp, but, your hair may seem thinner all over.
In most cases, hair loss caused by thyroid conditions is temporary, but regrowth of hairs may take several months.
It is important to note here that, you can still experience hair loss even after starting medicines for your thyroid condition. This is because the hair growth cycle is a months long process. But some people start wrongly blaming the thyroid medicines for hair loss. Unfortunately, if they stop their thyroid medicines, the hair loss problem will become worse.
Kindly note, it is perfectly normal to lose 50–100 hairs from your head each day. However, hair loss beyond this needs medical attention and may be related to thyroid problem.
Treatment options for thyroid related hair loss
Dear Reader, always remember that, “Treating thyroid related hair loss requires treating the Thyroid Problem“.
Working with your doctor to keep your thyroid disorder under control with medication may keep your hair thicker and can regenerate hair growth. But try to be patient because, regrowth of hairs can be unpredictable and may take several months.
Treatment for an underactive thyroid – (hypothyroidism):
levothyroxine: Your doctor will usually prescribe a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine to treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
This medicine is given when your thyroid gland does not produce enough of this hormone on its own.
Treatment for an overactive thyroid – (hyperthyroidism):
Antithyroid medications: Antithyroid medications, such as (propylthiouracil and methimazole) decrease the thyroid gland’s ability to make the thyroid hormone. It is used to treat overactive thyroid(hyperthyroidism).
Radioactive iodine: This treatment kills some cells in the thyroid gland and reduce the amount of hormones that the gland produces. This treatment induces hypothyroidism, which is then managed by using thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest the life.
Surgery: Your doctor will monitor your thyroid levels while you are on medication. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. It involves the removal of some or all of the thyroid gland, which may lead to hypothyroidism.
Kindly note, with the treatment, hair growth may be noticeable within several months. But be aware that the new hair may differ in color or texture from your original hair.
Home Remedies for thyroid related hair loss
Along with medication suggested by your doctor, you may try different home remedies to slowdown hair loss or regenerate hair growth. While the home remedies given below do not hold any scientific evidence, but you can give them a try to boost your hair growth.
1. Eating a balanced diet can help in growth and improve the condition of your hair. Foods that can increase the chances of having healthy hair include:
Fish: Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that can help prevent a dry scalp.
Green vegetables: Vegetables such as spinach have high levels of vitamins A and C. These vitamins can improve the condition of hair.
Protein rich foods: Eating foods rich in protein can help prevent weak hair. Dairy products, nuts and lean meats all contain high levels of protein.
Calcium rich foods: Calcium is key to hair growth. Dairy products, such as milk and cheese are Good sources of calcium.
Iron Rich Foods: Iron deficiency and thyroid related hair loss are related. You can get tested for iron levels in your body and consider supplements for iron rich foods like liver, eggs, lamb, green leafy vegetables and so on.
2. Apply Essential Oils: Essential oils like eucalyptus oil and other plant extracts are known to improve hair growth. But, it’s important to talk with your doctor before using essential oils and use caution while choosing a quality brand.
Furthermore, you should also always do a patch test before using any essential oil for hair growth.
3. Control Iodine Intake: People with autoimmune thyroid disorders should check their iodine consumption. The body uses iodine to make thyroid hormone, so too much of iodine consumption may lead to imbalances.
Therefore, It is very important to understand how much iodine you would require in a day.
4. Yoga Asanas: A healthy lifestyle, which includes balanced diet and regular exercise, can help you live well with thyroid disease. Furthermore, adding yoga to your daily routine may help improve your thyroid function and hair growth.
Dear Reader, please discuss the above mentioned home remedies with your doctor before you start.
The hypothalamus is a small but an important area of the brain. It’s located at the base of the brain, above the pituitary gland. It plays an important role in hormone production and controls many important processes in the body.
In humans, the hypothalamus is approximately the size of an almond and less than 1% of the brain’s weight.
Functions of the Hypothalamus
One of the major functions of the hypothalamus is to maintain your body’s internal balance, which is known as homeostasis.
Homeostasis means a healthful, stable, balanced body condition.
Therefore, to maintain homeostasis, the hypothalamus controls many of your bodily functions, including:
Heart rate and blood pressure
managing of sexual behavior
regulating emotional responses
Production of substances that influence the pituitary gland to release hormones.
As different systems and parts of the body send signals to the brain, they alert the hypothalamus about any unbalanced factors that need attention. The hypothalamus then responds by releasing the right hormones into the bloodstream to balance the body.
One example of this is the ability of a human being to maintain an internal temperature of 98.6 °Fahrenheit (ºF).
Anatomy of the Hypothalamus
The hypothalamus can be divided into three main regions.
Each region contains several nuclei (neuron clusters). These clusters of neurons perform vital functions, such as releasing hormones.
1.Anterior region: This region of the hypothalamus is also known as the supraoptic region. The main nuclei of anterior region include the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. There are several other smaller nuclei in the anterior region as well.
In addition, the supraoptic nucleus functions as the main source of vasopressin hormone, also known as the antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which plays a key role in the absorption of salts and glucose and maintaining water balance in your body.
Kindly note, the nuclei in the anterior region are largely involved in the secretion of various hormones. Many of these hormones interact with the pituitary gland to produce additional hormones.
2. Middle region: This region of the hypothalamus is known as the tuberal region. The main nuclei of middle region is the ventromedial and arcuate nuclei.
The ventromedial nucleus controls the appetite, while the arcuate nucleus is involved in releasing growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH). GHRH stimulates the pituitary gland to produce growth hormone. This is responsible for the growth and development of the body.
3.Posterior region: This area is also called the mammillary region. The main nuclei of posterior region include the posterior hypothalamic nucleus and mammillary.
The posterior hypothalamic nucleus helps regulate body temperature by causing shivering and blocking sweat production.
Hormones of the Hypothalamus
The hypothalamus is responsible for creating and controlling many hormones in the body. It works with the pituitary gland, which makes and sends other important hormones around the body.
Moreover, the hypothalamus uses bloodstream to communicate with the pituitary gland. These connections of the hypothalamus are called the endocrine connections.
Kindly note, when the hypothalamus receives a signal from the nervous system, it secretes hormones known as neurohormones. Theses neurohormones, further activates the pituitary gland, to start and stop the release of hormones in the body.
Together, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland control many other glands that produce hormones of the body. For example: Adrenal cortex, Gonads, and Thyroid gland.
Important hormones secreted by the hypothalamus include:
Anti-diuretic hormone (ADH): This hormone increases water absorption into the blood by the kidneys.
Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH): This hormone sends a signal to the pituitary gland, to further stimulate the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids. Corticosteroids helps to regulate metabolism and immune response.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH): GnRH instructs the pituitary gland to release the reproductive hormones, such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which work together to ensure normal functioning of the ovaries and testes.
Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH): GHRH instructs the pituitary gland to release the growth hormone (GH). In children, GH is essential to maintaining a healthy body composition.
Oxytocin: This hormone controls many important sexual and social behavior, such as orgasm, trust, body temperature, sleep cycles and the release of a mother’s breast milk.
Prolactin-releasing hormone (PRH): PRH tell the pituitary gland to either start or stop breast milk production in lactating mothers.
Thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH): TRH activates the pituitary gland to produce thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH regulates metabolism, energy, heart rate, growth and development.
Somatostatin: Somatostatin works to stop the pituitary gland from releasing certain hormones, including growth hormones and thyroid-stimulating hormones.
If the hypothalamus is not functioning properly, this is known as hypothalamus disorder.
Kindly note, these disorders are very hard to diagnose because the hypothalamus and pituitary gland are so tightly connected that, it’s often difficult for doctors to understand whether the disease is associated with the hypothalamus or pituitary gland.
As it is difficult for doctors to diagnose a specific, incorrectly functioning gland, these disorders are often called hypothalamic-pituitary disorders.
However, there are some hormone tests that make clear the root cause of the disease.
Several conditions that cause hypothalamus disorders, including:
Surgery involving the brain
Tumors in or around the hypothalamus
Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
Certain genetic disorders, such as growth hormone deficiency
Hypothalamus disordersplays a role in many conditions, including:
Hypopituitarism: It is a disorder in which your pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. It is usually caused by damage to the pituitary gland, however, hypothalamus disorder can also cause it. Because, many hormones produced by the hypothalamus, directly affect those produced by the pituitary gland.
Furthermore, the hormone deficiencies can affect number of your body’s routine functions, such as growth, blood pressure or reproduction.
Diabetes insipidus: This is an uncommon disorder that causes an imbalance of fluids in the body. When your hypothalamus doesn’t produce and release enough vasopressin hormone, the kidneys can remove too much water. This causes increased urination and thirst.
There’s no cure for diabetes insipidus. But treatments can relieve your thirst and decrease your urine output.
Prader-Willi syndrome: This is a rare genetic disorder. It causes the hypothalamus to not register, when someone is full after eating.
People with PWS have a constant urge to eat, which leads to obesity. Additional symptoms include a slower metabolism and decreased muscle.
Symptoms of hypothalamus disorders
Symptoms that indicate hypothalamus disorders include:
Sensitivity to heat
Weight gain or loss
Lack of sex drive
Fluctuations in body temperature
High or low blood pressure
Tests for hypothalamus disorders
If your doctor suspects a problem, he or she will perform a physical examination and ask about your symptoms. In addition, your doctor may also order Blood or urine tests to check hormone levels in your body such as:
Other possible tests include:
Hormone injections followed by timed blood samples
MRI or CT scans of the brain
How to make Hypothalamus healthy?
Some hypothalamus conditions are unavoidable, however, there are a few things you can do to keep it healthy.
1.)Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet is important for hypothalamus. Healthy dietary choices to support the hypothalamus include:
Fruits and Vegetables: Both fruits and vegetables contain lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that is beneficial for the hypothalamus.
Vitamins B1- A good source of vitamin B1 is actually Sunflower Seeds. You should put approximately a handful of sunflower seeds to your daily meal to boost up your hypothalamus health.
Moreover, pork and whole grain are also good source of Vitamin B1.
Vitamin C: It plays an important role in brain functions associated with hypothalamus. Vitamin C is also beneficial to protect your Hypothalamus from toxins.
Foods rich in vitamin C include lemons, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries and red bell peppers.
2.)Sleep Enough: When you get enough sleep, it keep your hypothalamus working properly.
3.)Exercise regularly: Like eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep, a regular exercise also boosts your overall health. Therefore, a regular exercise can also improve your hypothalamus functions.
Kindly note, even a mild amount of regular exercise can improve your hypothalamus function.
Your Pituitary gland is the main endocrine (hormone producing) gland that sits just beneath the base of the brain. It is very small in size (only about the size of a pea). It produces hormones that controls the function of many other hormone glands in your body (especially the thyroid, adrenals, ovaries and testicles).
Therefore, the pituitary gland is often called the master gland of the endocrine system.
How does the Pituitary gland Work ?
The pituitary gland controls the function of several other hormone glands by producing and releasing number of hormones into the bloodstream. In turn, the pituitary gland is controlled by the hypothalamus, a small region of the brain that lies just above the pituitary.
The Pituitary gland takes messages from the hypothalamus (in the form of hormones) and uses these messages for stimulating all the other hormone glands to produce their own hormones.
Parts of Pituitary gland
The pituitary gland can be divided into two different parts:
Front (anterior) lobe, which accounts for 80% of the pituitary gland’s weight.
Back (posterior) lobe.
These lobes are connected to the hypothalamus by a stalk that contains blood vessels and nerve cell projections (nerve fibers). The hypothalamus controls the anterior lobe by releasing hormones through the connecting blood vessels. It controls the posterior lobe through nerve impulses.
The Pituitary gland and its target organs:
Hormones produced by the pituitary gland
The pituitary gland secretes hormones from both the front part (anterior) and the back part (posterior) of the gland.
Anterior lobe hormones:
The anterior lobe of the pituitary gland produces and releases eight main hormones:
Growth hormone (GH): Growth hormone regulates growth and physical development. It has important effects on body shape by stimulating muscle formation.
Adrenocorticotropic hormone(ACTH): This hormone is also called corticotropin, which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and other hormones.
Follicle-stimulating hormone(FSH): Follicle-stimulating hormone is involved with estrogen secretion and the growth of egg cells in women. It’s also important for sperm cell production in men.
Luteinizing hormone (LH):Luteinizing hormone is involved in the production of estrogen in women and testosterone in men.
Prolactin(PRL): Prolactin stimulates the mammary glands of the breasts to produce milk.
Endorphins:Endorphins have pain-relieving properties and are thought to be connected to the “pleasure centers” of the brain.
Beta-melanocyte-stimulating hormone:This hormone helps to stimulate increased pigmentation of your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Posterior lobe hormones:
The posterior lobe of the pituitary gland also secretes hormones. These hormones are usually produced in your hypothalamus but are stored in the posterior lobe until they’re released.
Hormones stored in the posterior lobe include:
Vasopressin (ADH):Vasopressin (also called antidiuretic hormone) regulates the amount of water excreted by the kidneys and is therefore important in maintaining water balance in your body.
Oxytocin: This hormone stimulates the release of breast milk. It also stimulates contractions of the uterus during labor.
Pituitary gland conditions
Several conditions can affect your pituitary gland. Most are caused, when a tumour develops in or around the pituitary gland.
Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths that develop in or around your pituitary gland. Some pituitary tumors may begin to produce too much of one or more pituitary hormones. However, some tumors may start pressing your normal pituitary gland. Due to this pressure, your pituitary gland produce lower levels of hormones, a condition called hypopituitarism.
In addition to the above, pituitary tumors that make hormones are called “functioning” tumors and pituitary tumors that don’t make hormones are called “non-functioning” tumors.
Furthermore, most pituitary tumors are noncancerous (benign), also called an adenoma. It can remain in your pituitary gland or surrounding tissues and don’t spread to other parts of your body. ThePituitary tumours are not “brain tumours” according to The Pituitary Fundation. The term benign is used by doctors to describe a swelling which is not cancerous.
Most common pituitary gland conditions:
Acromegaly: In most cases, it is caused by a tumor of the pituitary gland, that produces too much growth hormone (GH).
This can lead to excessive growth of bones, especially of your hands and feet, because an excessive amount of growth hormone is released by the pituitary tumor.
Kindly note,In children, the condition is called gigantism. In adults, it is called acromegaly.
Cushing’s disease: In this condition, the pituitary gland produces large amounts of Adrenocorticotropic hormone(ACTH). This can lead to easy bruising, high blood pressure, weakness, and weight gain. It’s often caused by a tumor near or in the pituitary gland.
Hyperprolactinemia: In this condition, the prolactin hormonelevels are elevated in your blood. This can lead to infertility and a decreased sex drive. The tumor causes the pituitary gland to produce too much prolactin leading to hyperprolactinemia.
Non-functioning tumours: is an abnormal growths that develop in your pituitary gland. Non-functioning tumours are usually noncancerous (benign). However, it can cause headaches and visual problems by pressing other areas of your brain. It can also press your normal pituitary gland, causing your pituitary gland to produce lower levels of hormones, resulting a condition called hypopituitarism.
Diabetes insipidus: This condition is caused due to problem in release of hormone vasopressin. It usually happens due to a head injury, surgery, or a tumor. In this condition, your body can’t properly balance fluid levels.
As a result, people with Diabetes insipidus pass large amounts of heavily diluted urine.
Hypopituitarism:This condition causes your pituitary gland to produce very little or none of one or more of pituitary hormones. Hence, hypopituitarism can affect many of your body’s routine functions, such as growth, blood pressure or reproduction.
Rare pituitary gland conditions:
Empty Sella Syndrome(ESS): It is a rare condition, in which your pituitary gland shrinks or gets flattened. The pituitary gland sits in sella turcica (a bony structure that holds and protects your pituitary gland).
People with ESS have a defect/weakness in the membrane that normally keeps the spinal fluid around the brain separate from the sella turcica. As a result of the weakened membrane, spinal fluid can leak into the sella turcica and apply pressure on the pituitary gland. This pressure causes the gland to shrink or flatten.
In addition to the above, when your pituitary gland shrinks or becomes flattened, it cannot be seen on an MRI scan. Hence, your sella turcica looks like empty. This is called as empty sella syndrome.
Kallmann Syndrome(KS): In this condition, your hypothalamus fails to make enough of a hormone called gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The role of GnRH is to stimulate the testicles in males and the ovaries in females, to make sex hormones. If not enough of these hormones are made, the child will not enter puberty and will not be able to have children of their own without special treatment.
Furthermore, children with Kallmann syndrome also have either very poor or no sense of smell. KS occurs in both sexes but males are more commonly diagnosed with this condition.
Rathke’s Cleft Cysts: It is an abnormal fluid-filled sac (cyst) that usually is found between the two lobes of the pituitary gland (anterior lobe and posterior lobe).
During fetal development, the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland develops from a sac like structure known as Rathke’s pouch. This pouch normally closes early in fetal development. If this pouch does not close completely, this leaves a space that can fill with fluid and grow over time. As a result, Rathke cleft cyst can form.
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1: MEN1 is a rare disorder that causes tumors in the endocrine glands and parts of the small intestine and stomach. MEN1 is sometimes called Wermer’s syndrome, after one of the first doctors to recognize it.
In people with MEN1, multiple endocrine glands (usually the parathyroids, pancreas and pituitary) grow tumors and release excessive amounts of hormones that can lead to disease.
Patients usually also suffer from severe abnormalities of the nervous system that can be accompanied by behavior problems, psychiatric hospitalizations.
Furthermore, Wolfram syndrome is sometimes referred to as “DIDMOAD” (diabetes insipidus, diabetes mellitus, optic atrophy, and deafness).
Septo-Optic Dysplasia(SOD): It is a disorder of early brain and eye development. The most common features of SOD are underdevelopment of the eye (optic) nerve, abnormal formation of structures along the midline of the brain, and a small pituitary (pituitary hypoplasia).
Sheehan’s Syndrome(SS): Sheehan’s Syndrome is a condition that affects women who lose excess amount of blood in childbirth or who have severe low blood pressure during or after childbirth, which can deprive the body of oxygen. This lack of oxygen that causes damage to the pituitary gland is known as Sheehan’s syndrome.
Hence, this condition causes the pituitary gland to not produce enough pituitary hormones (hypopituitarism).
Lymphocytic Hypophysitis(LH): is a condition in which your pituitary gland is harmed by lymphocytes (a types of white blood cells), resulting in pituitary enlargement and weakened function. It most often occurs in women in late pregnancy or the postpartum period, but can also occur in prepubertal or post-menopausal women, and in men.
Symptoms of LH may include headache, visual field impairment and more rarely, double vision (diplopia). The exact cause of this condition is unknown but is thought to be autoimmune-related.
Nelson’s Syndrome: It is a rare disorder that occurs in some patients with Cushing’s disease. In Nelson’s syndrome, the pituitary tumor continues to grow and release excess amount of the hormone ACTH. As a result, both the adrenal glands (located on top of each kidney) have to remove surgically from a patient.
Moreover, this enlargement of tumor, often cause visual loss, pituitary failure and headaches.
Symptoms of a pituitary gland condition
The following list shows many of the symptoms associated with pituitary gland conditions in adults.
Unexplained weight gain
Reduced sex drive
Feeling dizzy and nauseous
Weakening, loss of Muscle
Enlarged hands and feet
Excessive sweating and oily skin
Inappropriate breast growth or production of breast mil
Please make sure you tell your doctors about all symptoms that you regularly notice. This will help them to treat you.
The following list shows some of the symptoms ofpituitary gland conditions in children.
Loss of vision
Excessive frequency of passing urine
Please make sure you tell your doctors about all symptoms that you regularly notice in your child. This will help them to treat your child.
Tests for Pituitary Tumors
To diagnose a pituitary tumor, your doctor will take your complete health history and perform a physical exam. He or she might order:
Blood tests: These tests can determine whether you have an overproduction or deficiency of pituitary hormones. Your doctor will look for abnormal hormone levels in your body for example. cortisol and thyroid hormone.
Urinalysis: This involves collecting a sample of urine for chemical analysis. Because hormone levels naturally go up and down during the day and night, it may be necessary to do a 24-hour urine collection.
Vision testing: These tests can help determine if a pituitary tumor is impacting your vision, especially your peripheral vision.
Pituitary MRIs: The best way to look at tumors or other abnormalities of the pituitary gland is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
In addition to the above, a pituitary gland MRI is different than a regular MRI of the brain. It creates high resolution images that allow doctors to see the pituitary region better. It can show the location, size, and shape of your pituitary tumor.
Computed tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan uses x-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of part of your body. CT scans can find a pituitary tumour, if it’s large enough. However, MRI scans are used much more often to look at the brain and pituitary gland.
Pituitary tissue samples: A biopsy (removing a sample of the tumor to examine under a microscope) is usually the only way to be certain about the diagnosis. In many cases, doctors won’t treat a tumor until a biopsy has been done.
But a biopsy isn’t usually needed before treating a pituitary tumor. One reason is that the hormone tests for some types of adenomas are very accurate, so a biopsy isn’t likely to provide much more information on pituitary tumor.
Note: Your doctor can usually diagnose a pituitary tumor with one or all of these tests, but that’s not always the case. If you need additional testing, your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist.
Treatment for Pituitary Disorders
Most pituitary tumors are noncancerous (benign). However, many tumors still require treatment. The treatment involves a team of medical experts, possibly including a brain surgeon (neurosurgeon), endocrine system specialist (endocrinologist) and a radiation oncologist.
Doctors generally use Surgery, Radiation therapy and Hormone replacement therapy, either alone or in combination, to treat a pituitary tumor and return hormone production back to normal levels.
Surgery: Surgical removal of a pituitary tumor is necessary if the tumor is pressing the optic nerves (to the eyes) or if the tumor is overproducing certain pituitary hormones. The two main surgical techniques for treating pituitary tumors are:
Endoscopic transnasal transsphenoidal approach: This usually enables your doctor to remove the tumor through your nose. No other part of your brain is affected, and there’s no visible scar by using this procedure.
Transcranial approach (craniotomy): The tumor is removed through the upper part of your skull via an incision in your scalp. It’s easier to reach large tumors by using this procedure.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy sources of radiation to destroy pituitary tumors. It can be used after surgery or alone if surgery is not an option. Radiation therapy can be beneficial if a tumor persists or returns after surgery. Methods of radiation therapy include:
External beam radiation
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
Proton beam therapy
Furthermore, the benefits and complications of these forms of radiation therapy often are not immediate and may take months or years to be fully effective. Your radiation oncologist will evaluate your condition and discuss the pros and cons of each option with you.
Hormone replacement therapy: If your pituitary gland is not functioning properly, you may not produce hormones that are essential for your well being and for vital bodily functions. You may need to take hormone replacement therapy, which will be prescribed to you by your doctor.
Moreover, in this therapy, a patient takes hormones to replace the hormones, not being produced by his/her pituitary gland. Such hormones include (cortisol, thyroid hormone, vasopressin, sex hormones and growth hormone).
Follow-up treatment for pituitary condition: Most people with a pituitary tumour or with pituitary condition will have regular check-ups at doctor’s clinic for the rest of their life. These check-ups enable your doctor to monitor your condition and pick up any changes as soon as possible.
In most patients their condition remains stable after initial treatment(s). However, regrowth of a pituitary tumour can occasionally occur. The chance of this happening is lower, if you had radiation therapy after your surgery. If regrowth does occur, your doctor may suggest you another surgery, or radiation therapy.
Tips for pituitary gland health
Eat a balanced, healthy diet: A balanced diet is good for your health. General tips for healthy eating include:
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals
Choosing good sources of fats, such as those that contain omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.
Opting for whole grains over refined grains.
Reducing sodium intake.
Avoiding refined sugars.
Drinking at least four to six cups of water a day.
Reduce your stress: The stress causes your body to release several stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, into your bloodstream. These hormones increase your concentration, ability to react, and strength. After you have dealt with your short term stress, your body returns to normal.
However, a long term stress can cause health problems, because your body is constantly producing higher levels of stress hormones and does not have time to recover. In other words, the constant production of stress hormones can cause serious health problems. For example:
Too much cortisol (a stress hormone) can sometimes lead to:
Therefore, try to spare some time to get at least 45 minutes per day of exercise or work on a relaxing hobby.
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), is produced and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland (a pea-sized structure), which is located at the base of your brain. It is responsible for regulating many hormones released by the thyroid gland.
Furthermore, your thyroid gland controls different bodily functions, including metabolic rate, heart and digestive functions, muscle control, brain development, by releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones.
Thyroid gland produces two major thyroid hormones:
In addition to the above, the production and release of thyroid hormones is controlled and regulated by thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is secreted by the pituitary gland.
How TSH Levels Change ?
When levels of thyroid hormones decrease below normal, the pituitary gland releases the Thyroid stimulating hormone. This hormone binds to the receptor on the thyroid cells. This causes thyroid cells to produce more hormones (T3 and T4) and release them into the bloodstream. Once the levels of thyroid hormones rise, the pituitary gland then decreases TSH production.
In this way, the two glands work together to make sure the right amount of thyroid hormones are produced.
First, your pituitary gland senses the level of thyroid hormone that is released into the bloodstream by your thyroid gland.
When your thyroid gland, due to illness, stress, surgery, obstruction, or due to whatever reason, doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, your pituitary gland detects the reduced levels of thyroid hormones and moves into action by making more TSH, which then triggers your thyroid to make more thyroid hormones (T3 and T4).
This is the pituitary’s effort to raise the levels of thyroid hormone and return the system to normal.
If your thyroid is overactive and producing too much thyroid hormone, due to disease or taking too high a dose of thyroid hormone replacement drugs, your pituitary gland senses that there is too much of the hormone circulating and slows or shuts down TSH production.
This drop in TSH is an attempt to return circulating thyroid hormones levels to normal.
Why do I need a TSH test?
A TSH test can be used to check how well your thyroid gland is functioning. It measures the amount of TSH that your pituitary gland is secreting. Your doctor may order a TSH test, if you’re experiencing symptoms of a thyroid disorder.
High TSH levels can mean your thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism. Low TSH levels can mean your thyroid is making too much of the hormones, a condition called hyperthyroidism.
Please note, a TSH test does not explain why TSH levels are too high or too low. If your test results are abnormal, your health care provider will probably order additional tests to determine the cause of your thyroid problem. These tests may include:
T4 thyroid hormone tests
T3 thyroid hormone tests
Tests to diagnose Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that causes hyperthyroidism
It’s important to tell your doctor about all of the medications you’re currently taking. Many multivitamins, supplements, and prescription medications may interfere with the accuracy of the TSH test results. Therefore, their use should be discussed with your doctor, prior to testing.
You may need to avoid using these drugs before the test. However, don’t stop taking your medications unless your doctor tells you to do so.
In addition to the above, you may also need to fast (not eat or drink) for several hours before the test. Remember, TSH levels can vary throughout the day, so it’s best to have this test done early in the morning. Your health care provider will let you know if there are any special instructions to follow.
How is a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test Performed?
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial (a small glass or plastic bottle). You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out.
The entire procedure should only take a few minutes to complete. The blood sample will be sent to a lab for analysis. Once your doctor receives the test results, they’ll schedule an appointment with you to discuss the results and explain what they may mean.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) Test Reference range
TSH Test reference range are only one indicator of how your thyroid is functioning. They vary by gender, age, and other factors. In general, normal, low, and high TSH levels are:
THYROID STIMULATING HORMONE (TSH) TEST by ECLIA (ELECTROCHEMILUMINESCENCE IMMUNOASSAY),3rd GEN. ULTRASENSITIVE
Both high and low TSH can affect fertility. Men with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism both had fewer normally shaped sperm.
In addition, men are more susceptible than women to complications like irregular development of the genitals if they have high TSH. Taking thyroid hormone replacement therapy may be necessary for men to balance TSH.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels in children
TSH levels in children can vary based on their age. A 2008 study that closely measured TSH levels in kids from birth to as old as 18 years found wildly different TSH levels throughout their lives.
though TSH tends to be high for the first month after they’re born, a
child’s TSH levels will gradually decrease as they get closer to
adulthood before rising again as they age.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels in pregnancy
Pregnancy hormones naturally increase the levels of certain thyroid hormones in the blood. This is essential for the development of the fetal brain and nervous system.
At the same time, the levels of TSH in the blood decrease. As a result, doctors use lower reference ranges for pregnant women.
Levels of TSH in the blood increase gradually during the second and third trimesters, but they remain lower than normal levels in women who are not pregnant.
Doctors carefully monitor TSH levels throughout pregnancy. Having unusually high or low levels can affect the risk of miscarriage and cause pregnancy-related complications, such as:
During diagnosis, most doctors use the TSH test to evaluate thyroid function and determine the optimal course of treatment. There are times, however, when a TSH may be insufficient.
For example, free T4 test in addition to TSH is usually ordered, if a doctor suspects thyroid dysfunction arising from disease of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. Likewise, if the TSH is normal, but a person still has symptoms of being hyperthyroid or hypothyroid, free T4 test may be ordered.
TSH is also not necessarily sufficient to monitor hypothyroidism during pregnancy, therefore, a T4 and free T4 tests are often recommended. Depending on the clinical situation, other thyroid tests that may be ordered include triiodothyronine (T3), free T3 and thyroid antibody tests.
Doctors can use the TSH test results to diagnose thyroid conditions, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Normal TSH reference range can vary widely, depending on a person’s age, gender, and other factors. A reference rangecan also vary between different laboratories, however, for most adults (>20 Years), the normal range falls between 0.27 and 4.70 μIU/mL.
Furthermore, make sure you get your TSH levels tested regularly, especially if you have a family history of thyroid disorders or have seen abnormal TSH levels on previous test results.
Follow all the instructions your doctor gives you to stop taking certain medications or eating certain foods before a TSH test to make sure the results are accurate. This way, your doctor can give you a treatment plan that’s best for the cause of abnormal TSH.