Neuroendocrine complications are common with TBI but often remain undiagnosed and untreated wreaking havoc on survivors who struggle for answers. Neuroendocrine deficits begin in the hypothalamus. A problem within the control center of the brain known as the hypothalamus causes hypothalamus dysfunction.
It lies just above the brain stem. Without a proper functioning hypothalamus the control center is unable to maintain proper homeostasis and every system in the body is affected.
Primary function of the hypothalamus controls the Autonomic Nervous System (heart, lungs, muscles, etc.), pituitary gland, and regulates bodily functions.
A few things that are regulated by this small area of brain includes: weight, appetite, salt and water balance, sleep, hunger and thirst, growth, emotions, body temperature, childbirth and milk production.
Is it a wonder there is a problem with sleep withTBI? Problems with the hypothalamus affects the circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycles.
Some causes of hypothalamic dysfunction include: head trauma, bleeding, tumors, infections, radiation, surgery, excess of iron, genetic disorders, malnutrition, anorexia, and bulimia.
Bleeding from a traumatic brain injury eventually damaged the hypothalamus while all the blood was reabsorbed within the brain tissue. This also killed off nerves, neurons, and later calcified within the brain at the initial injury site from a bleed.
Treatment is dependent upon causes of hypothalamic dysfunction. It’s necessary to replace missing hormones for hormonal deficiencies. There are specific treatments for other causes.
Most hypothalamic dysfunction are treatable and missing hormones can be replaced. Does this mean that TBI survivors may improve drastically with hormone replacement? Anything is possible, and if there is a deficit of proper hormones replacement would improve the quality of life.
With a little help of the proper hormones TBI survivors would be returning to a higher level of functioning. Is this the answer to TBI treatment with long-term consequences?
Complications that happen with hypothalamic dysfunction are numerous but are dependent upon the cause. The most serious complication is Adrenal insufficiency which can be life threatening.
Growth hormone deficiency causes an array of symptoms. Both of these endocrine problems have been identified with one’s extensive blood work. Other causes besides TBI include: brain tumors, hypothyroidism, and gonadal deficiency.
When should one contact their healthcare provider if you suspect hypothalamic dysfunction? If you have symptoms of hormone deficiency or excess that involve nearly every system of the body and also include vision problems or headaches contact your physician.
If you feel so exhausted that you absolutely could not get up and leave the house if there was a fire, contact your physician. This is not normal, but it became normal for me for nearly two decades! Consult a licensed medical professional for diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition. For all medical emergencies dial 911.
Blood or urine tests determine levels of hormones. Pituitary hormones, Growth hormone, Cortisol, Thyroid, Estrogen, Prolactin, and Testosterone. After these tests are completed other tests include: Timed blood samples following hormone injections, MRI and CT scans of the brain, and eye exams.
Hypothalamic dysfunction lowers the efficiency of adrenal glands (located on top of the kidneys). Adrenal difficulties include weakness and vertigo. Blood pressure is maintained by adrenals. Adrenocorticotropic hormones (ACTH) are responsible for keeping a healthy blood pressure. Sometimes this is thought to be solely an Autonomic Instability issue.
Blood tests determine how efficient the pituitary gland is functioning. Growth hormone (GH) stimulation test measures the level in the blood after injecting (arginine or GH-releasing hormone) medication that triggers release of GH. This test measures the ability of the pituitary gland to release growth hormone.
If the hypothalamus is damaged it’s possible the pituitary gland is not receiving the message from this area that would trigger release of pituitary hormones.
Severe head injury is one cause of growth hormone deficiency in adults. Along with growth hormone deficiency one’s ACTH is deficit.
ACTH controls the adrenal glands by its production of cortisol. The combination of hormonal replacements changed my life from “existing” to “living”! Never give up hope.
Cortisol improves with hormone replacement. Adrenal insufficiency is life threatening and needs emergency intervention with immediate intravenous glucocorticalsteroids for recovery and to preserve life.
Sleep is a major problem with traumatic brain injury. Are we overlooking the primary area of the brain that may have been damaged? Are we failing to treat the TBI survivor for the most probably cause of so many symptoms? It is possible the rate of recovery is hampered because poor diagnostic procedures and delay for hormonal testing?
We need to make an effort to properly diagnose and treat everyone with TBI, and eliminate years of suffering for every individual and family. What is the price put on one’s life and those directly involved? Every life is precious and priceless
We need to ask ourselves if this is a cost-effective strategy by eliminating testing procedures that may connect the neuroendocrine problems with diagnosis and treatment of TBI and many other disorders. Is it simply the lack of education regarding TBI?
What would you do if you were given some quality of life back?
- Diagnostic Tests for Thyroid Disease (everydayhealth.com)
- Recognize the Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue (drlauraberman.com)