As we all should know by now, everything we do affects our bodies – how active we are, how much stress we undergo, and even the weather we live in. So, if outside elements affect us in such a manner, it is no surprise that inside elements affects us all the more so.
Especially is this true in the area of hormones where we find that almost every organ and function in the body is affected by them – most of the time for the good, but sometimes for the bad.
For example, let’s examine hypertension. Hypertension, commonly called high blood pressure, can lead to very serious complications if not maintained. So much so, it is known as the “silent killer.” But what is it exactly? When blood flows through the body, a certain amount of force is exerted against the artery walls. This force exerted is called blood pressure, as reported by the Hormone Foundation. For example, when medical staff reads your blood pressure (BP) as 120/80, they are really reading the pressure of the heart when it contracts (systolic) and relaxes (diastolic).
When a person is hypertensive, they are experiencing a rise in blood pressure. Unfortunately, this is a very prevalent disease – over 50 million adults in the U.S. have it.
The Hormone Connection
So, the next question is when do hormones play a part in causing hypertension? According to the Hormone Foundation, hypertension can be caused by such hormonal disorders as Cushing’s syndrome or primary aldosteronism (an adrenal gland disorder).
It is so important to pinpoint the cause of hypertension because this can provide vital information so proper treatment can be administered. Hypertension can be controlled with proper medication and lifestyle adjustments. It is best to contact your physician for answers or any treatment plan.
Headaches are relatively common – in women more so than men. Scientists have explained the difference due to hormones.
The Hormone Connection
It has been noted that headaches in females begin around the first menstrual cycle and continue from there. Even birth control bills and hormone therapy can trigger headaches, reports the Mayo Clinic. The culprit – estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are thought to clash with head-ache related substances in the brain. The lower the estrogen in some women, the worse the headache.
For most, over-the-counter medications will do the trick. Of course, individuals want to be aware of any bad habits in their lifestyle (lack of exercise, stress levels, sleep deprivation or diet) that would induce headaches as well. However, if your migraines are inhibiting you from a normal lifestyle, then you may need something stronger as prescribed by a physician.
Think preventively if you know your cycle is coming and you will have a headache by taking meds a few days before your cycle begins. If it is your birth control that seems to trigger the migraines – consult with your doctor. He/she will adjust your prescription to suit your needs. In menopausal women, headaches can be tricky as well. Reports indicate that for some, migraines improve during menopause but tension headaches get worse. Remember during menopause that estrogen drops and lowered estrogen increases headaches. Additionally, hormonal therapy increases headaches in some women but improves them in others. Wild, I know. Happily, in most menopausal women, headaches cease. But you know who remains fat and happy and least affected overall by hormonal headaches? Pregnant women!! I know, right? Sigh. Anyway, they seem to have the right estrogen levels to ward off headaches and migraines altogether.
No matter your state, if your headaches are connected to hormones, see your doctor for assistance. This is especially true if the over-the-counter medications are not working.
Resources: The Mayo Clinic, The Hormone Foundation
Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer living in Tennessee. She currently works for the State of Tennessee assisting families at risk.
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Thanks for a simple, understandable explanation of how things like headaches and high blood pressure can be related to hormones. One of the biggest difficulties in diagnosing conditions that are related to hormones can be getting a doctor to actually TEST your hormonal levels, sometimes more than once, to figure out what is normal for each individual and then figuring out how those levels are affecting that person. In a way, it seems like hormone levels should be tested annually as a part of our records, so that we can look back later in life and see what our "normal" levels were during certain times of life. Do you have any advice for women who believe they have a condition related to hormones but don't know what to do next?October 30, 2009 - 8:51am