Hypothalamic dysfunction is a problem with the region of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps control the pituitary gland and regulate many body functions.
Symptoms generally relate to the hormones that are missing. In children, there may be growth problems -- either too much growth or too little -- or puberty that occurs too early or too late. Tumor symptoms: Headaches Loss of vision Hypothyroidism symptoms: Breast enlargement Cold intolerance Fatigue Hair or skin changes Impotence Loss of body hair and muscle (in men) Menstrual disturbance Weight gain Low adrenal function symptoms: Dizziness Weakness Other, less common symptoms may include: Body temperature disturbance Emotional abnormalities Excess thirst Obesity Uncontrolled urination Kallmann's syndrome (a type of hypothalamic dysfunction that occurs in men) symptoms: Lowered function of sexual hormones (hypogonadism) Inability to smell
The hypothalamus helps control the pituitary gland, particularly in response to stress. The pituitary, in turn, controls the: Adrenal glands Ovaries Testes Thyroid gland The hypothalamus also helps regulate: Body temperature Childbirth Emotions Growth Milk production Salt and water balance Sleep Weight and appetite Causes of hypothalamic dysfunction include: Anorexia Bleeding Bulimia Genetic disorders Growths (tumors) Head trauma Infections and swelling (inflammation) Malnutrition Radiation Surgery Too much iron The most common tumors in the area are craniopharyngiomas in children.
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Many causes of hypothalamic dysfunction are treatable. Most of the time missing hormones can be replaced.
Treatment depends on the cause of the hypothalamic dysfunction. Tumors -- surgery or radiation Hormonal deficiencies -- replace missing hormones Specific treatments may be available for bleeding, infection, and other causes.