Hypothalamus, though small in size, directs and controls range of functions of the body. It is located beneath the thalamus region and is bordered on its side by temporal lobes.
It is that portion of the brain that is responsible for controlling homeostasis (internal balance of the body). It is the center that controls many autonomic functions of the body. It maintains strong connections with endocrine and nervous systems. Hypothalamus is the region that produces many hormones.
Hypothalamus is the part that either stimulates or inhibits body’s vital functions like heart rate and blood pressure. It controls and determines body temperature. This portion of the brain is responsible for causing thirst and maintains electrolyte balance in your body. It controls the glandular secretions of intestine and stomach. It regulates your sleep cycle. It is responsible for controlling motor functions of the body.
Hormones Secreted by Hypothalamus :
Hypothalamus is vital in maintaining the functions of pituitary gland in the brain. Once it receives signal from the nervous system, it secretes neuro-hormones which in turn initiates the secretion of several pituitary hormones like Anti Diuretic hormone ADH, Corticotropin Releasing Hormone CRH, Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone GnRH, Growth Hormone Releasing and inhibiting GHRH and GHIH, and Prolactin Hormone (releasing and inhibiting).
Thus hypothalamus is responsible for the normal growth and development of the body; it controls various bodily functions including sleep cycles. It is also responsible for invoking various emotional responses.
Hypothalamus Disease :
Any abnormality on the hypothalamus can cause hypothalamus disease and disorder. Very often hard blow or physical injury to the head is the main cause for this disease.
When hypothalamus gets affected it may cause serious problem in appetite and sleep since it regulates the endocrine system of the body.
The region of hypothalamus and pituitary are so close and interconnected that it becomes difficult to diagnose whether particular problem is caused due to problems in pituitary gland or hypothalamus.
Causes of Hypothalamus Disorders :
Excess of iron molecules on the body can cause many diseases on the hypothalamus region. Hypothalamus disorders can be caused due to malnutrition (lack of essential nutrients for the body).
Anorexia nervosa and bilirumia are abnormalities caused due to hypothalamus diseases. They are classified under eating disorders either overeating or eating very less.
Any kind of trauma or injury on the head can cause problems in the functions of hypothalamus.
Brain tumor of any kind can seriously affect the normal functions of hypothalamus.
The signs and symptoms vary widely with the underlying condition that is responsible for the disorder. There can be frequent headaches, dizziness, vision problems and confusion.
Since hypothalamus and pituitary gland are interconnected any abnormality on the hypothalamus can affect the functions of pituitary gland hormones. Hence it can cause constipation, weight loss or gain, hair loss, sexual dysfunction and impotence.
Hypothalamus is responsible for regulating body temperature, any irregularity in this region will reflect in the form of high fever.
Children with hypothalamus disorder can have growth impairment since it controls the release of growth hormones.
Treatment depends on the causative factors and on the severity of symptoms. For people with malnutrition, healthy diet is prescribed. For treating eating disorders like anorexia nervosa counseling therapy and medications are given.
For severe problems like brain tumor or blood clot inside the brain, surgery is done depending on the intensity of damage.