Hormones and Autoimmune Disease

Hormones and Autoimmune Disease

Hormonal disorders as well as autoimmune diseases are both on the rise. And who do they effect the most? Women. Studies show that 75% of the patients suffering from autoimmune diseases are women.

But what is the link between the two, if any? Why is it that women are more susceptible to them than men? What precautionary measures can be taken to get rid of this problem? If you have recently been having symptoms that are somewhat like an autoimmune disease or some hormonal issues, here are some things to help.

Autoimmune Disease and Hormone Disorders

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are where the immune system starts attacking healthy cells within the body, thinking that they are dangerous. When this happens the immune system weakens and it becomes difficult to fight foreign and actually harmful invaders like viruses and infections.

The condition is something that can be caused at any time, without any prior notice. Some very common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Graves’ disease, Hashimotos Thyroid,  multiple sclerosis, and diabetes type I.

Some signs and symptoms of autoimmune diseases are:

  • Weakness, exhaustion, tremor
  • Foggy brain or difficulty in concentrating or focusing
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Weight loss
  • Muscular pain
  • Inability to sleep or continuing to wake up while sleeping
  • Dry skin, mouth and eyes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hair loss
  • Miscarriages

Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalance is a condition where your hormones within the body are either being produced excessively or not adequately enough. This leads to many conditions that alter the health and quality of life. Be it the thyroid hormone, or adrenal, sex hormone or pancreatic, if they are not being produced in the amount required, symptoms will arise. Some common hormonal issues include, thyroid problems, PCOS, erectile dysfunction, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and even infertility.

There are certain signs that will alert you to hormonal imbalances. These include:

  • Sudden weight gain without any reason
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Hair loss, but excessive facial hair
  • Enlarged thyroid gland or swollen neck
  • Poor sleeping patterns
  • Mood swings, depression and anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Body aches and muscular aches
  • Indigestion or constipation
  • Food cravings
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Inability to conceive
  • Decreased sexual drive

The question is, what does an autoimmune disease have to do with hormonal disorders? Does one lead to the other? And why is it so prevalent in females?

The Connection

The reason why so many women are prone to develop autoimmune conditions is that they are more likely to have inflammation within their immune systems. But this is only one cause. Research and stats show that there is another major cause… sex hormones. Women have sex hormones that keep fluctuating, going up and down during their menstrual cycle, with the use of contraceptives, pregnancy, and menopause.

What’s more, women who have already become pregnant are more at risk of developing autoimmune disease than others. And this proves the theory that there is a concrete connection between autoimmune conditions and hormone imbalance.

Research makes it clear that women who are low on the sex hormone DHEA, produced by the adrenal glands, the brain as well as the sex glands are ones who are more likely to be afflicted by autoimmune conditions. It is seen that DHEA is an anti-inflammatory hormone and when its deficiency occurs, it leads to the rise of autoimmune diseases.

But what is it that causes DHEA levels to go down so rapidly? Stress. Or the presence of too much cortisol in the body is what leads to the lowering of this precious hormone. As soon as stress sets in, be it mental or physical, it leads to reduction of DHEA. This is the reason why many women who have autoimmune diseases feel tired and run down. With time, DHEA goes down, adrenal fatigue sets in, and the body is unable to control proper function of the immune system.

What needs to be understood is that human body  is able to manufacture the right quantities of DHEA. What needs to be checked out is the production of adequate amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone. If stress is not kept in check, autoimmune diseases will continue to rise as well.

Sadly, this is not the only connection between autoimmune diseases and hormonal imbalance. Various hormonal changes like at the time of a woman’s menstrual cycle, menopause, with the use of contraceptive pills, and during pregnancy, autoimmune disease can attack the body.

Studies show that from diabetes to systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis to scleroderma, MS to Sjogren’s syndrome, all have hormone imbalance at the heart of the disease. It is very likely that at times these diseases are what lead to the imbalance in hormones.  When research was conducted on menopausal women, it was deduced that they were at high risk for developing these autoimmune conditions.

What to do?

Does this mean women are doomed and there is nothing they can do about reducing their risk of either autoimmune diseases or hormonal imbalance? Of course not! Precaution can always be taken. The very first thing that you need to do is check yourself for any of the above mentioned symptoms you may if.  Whether it’s hormonal imbalance or autoimmune disease, get them checked out by your doctor.  A proper family history is often a key in identifying risk factors for autoimmune problems.

Some other things that you would need to do is improve your diet and lifestyle. Many hormonal issues occur due to the lifestyle and the diet people consume.  For instance, the consumption of good healthy fats like avocado or coconut oil is essential.  These fats are the building blocks for your hormones.  You man benefit from a Food DNA Uprint from Health Solutions Plus to identify what foods you should be avoiding.  If your body is constantly under stress, then chances of hormonal imbalance and autoimmune disease increase significantly.

Therefore, you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Make sure that you eat well, sleep well and keep yourself physically and emotionally fit. The happier you are, the stronger your immune system will remain.

 

References

  • https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/autoimmune-diseases
  • https://rootcausemedicalclinic.com/blog/the-connection-between-female-hormones-and-autoimmune-disease-2/
  • https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/775536_6
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