The endocrine system controls your body’s hormones. Everything from insulin to thyroid hormones to estrogen is managed by your endocrine system. Problems with this body system can cause a wide range of health conditions that can affect your energy levels, weight, mood, metabolism, and more.

Today we’ll look at common causes, symptoms, and where to get support.

There’s a range of endocrine problems that also have a wide range of causes. Some common causes of endocrine problems are discussed below.

Mold and endocrine problems

There’s some evidence to suggest that mold exposure can affect hormonal levels. Mold may cause hormonal imbalances in reproductive hormones that could lead to symptoms including:

However, more research is needed. There isn’t currently enough data to confirm these findings.

Was this helpful?

The endocrine system controls the ways your body produces and releases hormones. The system operates using glands all over the body, and when something goes wrong, it can have far-reaching effects. Some common endocrine problems include:

  • Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too many hormones. Thyroid hormones help your body control energy levels, and overproduction of these hormones can cause symptoms such as a racing heart, unintentional weight loss, and anxiety. Hyperthyroidism can be autoimmune or caused by inflammation.
  • Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism causes your thyroid to produce too few thyroid hormones. This can lead to symptoms such as weight gain, brain fog, and fatigue.
  • Diabetes: When you have diabetes, your body either cannot produce enough insulin or cannot use insulin efficiently enough. This makes it very difficult to control blood sugar levels. There are a few different types of diabetes, but type 1 and type 2 are the most common.
  • Cushing syndrome: Cushing syndrome occurs when your body makes too much of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is sometimes known as the “stress hormone” because it helps the body respond to stress along with maintaining functions like metabolism and blood pressure. Too much cortisol can lead to symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, and a rounded face.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that occurs in the ovaries. It can lead to symptoms such as acne, increased facial and body hair, increased hair loss, and menstrual irregularities. In some people, it can be caused by insulin resistance.
  • Acromegaly: Acromegaly is an endocrine problem that occurs when the body makes too much growth hormone. It can cause symptoms such as excessive sweating, unusual bone and organ growth, and swollen hands and feet.

Endocrine problems can create many combinations of different symptoms. However, some early symptoms are common among most endocrine problems. Common symptoms include:

The endocrine system and your anxiety

Your hormones can have a significant impact on your mood. There’s also a connection between endocrine problems and anxiety.

Your endocrine system is responsible for activating your fight, flight, or freeze response. It’s your endocrine system that gets your heart racing, constricts your blood vessels, increases the speed of your breathing, and focuses your mind on the problem or danger.

A problem with your endocrine system can cause some of these responses to pop up when no danger is present. This can add to or cause stress, panic, and anxiety. If this continues to happen, anxiety can start to feel constant.

Not all anxiety symptoms are related to the endocrine system and not everyone with an endocrine problem experiences anxiety — but there is a connection.

Was this helpful?

Endocrine problems in children and teens

Type 1 diabetes is the most common endocrine problem in children and teens. Children can also develop type 2 diabetes, as well as problems with the thyroid, adrenal gland, and pituitary gland.

Additionally, bone growth problems and hormonal imbalances sometimes appear during early childhood or puberty when children fail to hit developmental milestones.

Adolescents and teenagers with endocrine problems may benefit from the use of puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy.

Endocrine problems in adults

Adults can develop endocrine problems that affect their entire bodies. Problems with the endocrine system can cause hormone levels that are too high or too low for your body to function correctly. When it comes to hormones, it might be easier to list the body functions that aren’t affected by them.

Medical treatments can help readjust hormone levels, but many endocrine problems are chronic. You’ll likely need to follow a long-term treatment plan to help manage your condition.

Endocrine problems in the elderly

Endocrine problems can look different in older populations. Often, older people with endocrine problems assume that their symptoms are just part of getting older and might not report them to doctors or friends and family. However, both type 2 diabetes and thyroid problems are common in seniors.

Symptoms are more generalized and might include:

It can be difficult to diagnose endocrine problems. The symptoms of endocrine problems are similar to the symptoms of many other conditions.

Your doctor might need to do several tests to rule out these conditions before they can confirm the diagnosis. Common tests that help diagnose endocrine problems include:

The exact treatment for your endocrine problem will depend on the exact problem. There’s a wide range of possible treatments. For instance, type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed through lifestyle changes, but a tumor growing in your pituitary gland will need to be surgically removed.

Common treatments for endocrine problems are:

  • Hormonal therapy: Some endocrine problems are treated with hormonal therapy. This is often part of the treatment plan for conditions caused by low hormonal levels.
  • Medications: Several types of medication can treat the symptoms of endocrine problems. Other medications can control the way your body produces hormones.
  • Surgery: Surgery can be a treatment for tumors. Sometimes, it’s also done as a method of helping a gland produce appropriate hormone levels. This is generally only done when other treatments have not been successful.

The long-term complications of endocrine problems depend on the specific problem and on treatment. In many cases, managing an endocrine problem with treatment can prevent complications from occurring. If complications do occur, they vary depending on the specific problem.

For instance, long-term complications of type 2 diabetes include:

Long-term complications of PCOS include:

Living with endocrine problems

Managing an endocrine condition can be overwhelming. Finding support can help. Online resources are great places to turn.

  • Smart Patients: Smart Patients is a tool that allows users to join online support groups. You can join broad support groups, or search for groups of people who share your specific endocrine problem.
  • Support Group Central Chronic Illness Support Group: Support Group Central hosts a wide variety of support groups. Their Chronic Illness Support Group can help you connect with others managing chronic conditions.
  • HealingWell: HealingWell offers educational resources, support groups, and more for people with chronic health conditions.
Was this helpful?

There are many problems that can affect the endocrine system and how hormones are produced and used in your body. Many of these problems are chronic. They can impact your weight, energy levels, mood, reproductive system, metabolism, and more.

Treatments can help rebalance your hormones and manage your symptoms. With treatment, many people can avoid long-term complications of their endocrine problems.