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.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The hypothalamus helps control the pituitary gland, particularly in response to stress. The pituitary, in turn, controls the:
The hypothalamus also helps regulate:
Salt and water balance
Weight and appetite
Causes of hypothalamic dysfunction include:
The most common tumors in the area are craniopharyngiomas
Symptoms are usually due to the hormones that are missing. In children, there may be growth problems -- either too much or too little growth -- or puberty that occurs too early or too late.
Low adrenal function symptoms:
Other, less common symptoms may include:
Kallmann's syndrome (a type of hypothalamic dysfunction that occurs in men) symptoms:
Inability to smell
Signs and tests
Blood or urine tests to determine levels of hormones such as:
Other possible tests:
Treatment depends on the cause of the hypothalamic dysfunction.
Specific treatments may be available for bleeding, infection, and other causes.
Many causes of hypothalamic dysfunction are treatable. Most of the time missing hormones can be replaced.
Complications of hypothalamic dysfunction depend on the cause.
Growth hormone deficiency:
Calling your health care provider
Call your doctor if you have:
Maintain a healthy diet and don't exercise too hard or lose weight too quickly. If you believe you have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, get medical attention: these conditions can be life threatening.
If you have symptoms of a hormonal deficiency, discuss replacement therapy with your health care provider.
Low MJ. Neuroendocrinology. In: Kronenberg HM, Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 7.
Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.