Hormones and their functions
Hormones are chemical compounds that flow in your body in tissue fluids such as blood, lymph or sap. These compounds tend to play an active role in deciding how certain organs act in a given situation. Hormones are also responsible for triggering or promoting certain significant functions in the body. Although, endocrine glands (also known as ductless organs, because of the absence of particular channels for the circulation of their secretion) release these substances directly in the bloodstream, hormones only specifically act on certain organs and not all of them. For obvious reasons, the set of organs that are targeted by a particular hormone are known to be target organs or target sites. Hormones work as chemical messengers which control and coordinate different functions of bodily systems.
For instance, GH or Growth Hormone tends to promote the overall growth of an individual. Likewise, there are other hormones that are specific to the sex of an individual. These are responsible for reproductive and other secondary body functions. The ovaries produce the female hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone, which are engaged with reproduction. On the other hand, the testicles produce the male hormone testosterone, which is involved with proliferation.
Synthetic production of hormones
Commonly, natural hormones are delivered by organs in the body while artificial or synthetic ones can be prepared in a lab. The artificial creation of hormones has been a success in medicine despite the measures that need to be considered in the process. A lot of malfunctions in the human body can be treated and even cured with the help of hormonal therapy.
Also, because it is practically impossible to transfuse hormone from one person to another, the artificial production of hormones has gained popularity. With the FDA approval gained in 1985, recombinant hormone production techniques have increased the production multiple times. This has been the foundation structure of thousands of researches in the field of medicine, thus curing the most fatal of diseases.
Hormone therapy is widely used across the globe to treat the disease which has taken a gigantic course in recent years– cancer. In this treatment, external hormones are pushed into the system of an individual who has been suspected with cancer to stop or reduce the speed of growth of cancerous cells. It is known by different terms, some of them being– Hormone treatment, Hormonal therapy or Endocrine therapy.
With the advancement of this procedure in medicine, doctors have not only been able to treat cancer or prevent the chances of it coming back but they also have found ways to ease the symptoms that tag along with the disease. For instance, it can be elemental in drying up a tumour before it is operated out, to make the process less painful. In many cases, it is seen that hormone therapy turns out to be the principle treatment for cancer in an individual. However, some other cases might require the assistance of other forms of medication. This therapy is broadly classified into two categories based on their functions:
- One which stops the body from producing hormones.
- The other controls the behaviour of certain hormones in the body.
To whom is hormone therapy given?
Most often, hormone therapy is used to treat or reduce the symptoms associated with cancer. Common cancers where hormone therapy is used are breast cancer in females and prostate cancer in males. The type and the intensity of the treatment depend on the type of cancer and the region that has been affected by the same. In this way, this therapy has given hope to a significant number of cancer patients across the globe who have failed to find a cure anywhere else. Hormone therapy should only be carried out after a thorough assessment of the body of the person undergoing this treatment while considering every minute detail of his/her medical history.
How is hormone treatment given?
Hormone therapy is majorly used to cure cancer as the primary treatment, however, it can also be paired up with other medicine types in some critical cases to accelerate the effect or tone the adversities down. In the interim, research is continuing to consider the potential viability of hormonal control in treating other malignancy types. Hormone treatment can be given in a couple of ways listed below:
- Oral medicine: a few treatments are taken by mouth.
- Infusion: certain treatments are given by an infusion under the skin (subcutaneous) or in the muscle (intramuscular).
- Surgical intervention: for instance, the expulsion of the ovaries in ladies, or testicles in men, results in diminished creation of specific hormones.
Numerous patients consider hormone treatment as being “less strong” than chemotherapy but the truth is it is highly effective. Moreover, hormone therapy is known to have an all-around flexible procedure as one does not require any particular location and equipment support to receive the treatment. This can be easily dealt with at home or other places like offices or if needed, one might consider taking the therapy in a hospital. However, you need to choose a reliable medical practitioner while you’re planning to undergo this treatment or any other therapy for that matter. Talking about experienced professionals, you need to know About Kingsberg Medical as they not only provide you with the treatment but also ensure that all of your doubts regarding the same are dealt with utmost care.
Side effects associated with hormone therapy
Like most other forms of medication, this therapy also comes with its set of drawbacks. A number of side effects are generally associated with hormonal treatments and are known to cause complications. The results are majorly defined by the strength of the disease and the intensity of the procedure. The type of hormones that a person is being treated with and reactions of his or her immune system to the same also determine the side effects caused. Some hormones which are specific to males or females might result in different sets of symptoms. Some of the commonly seen adversities of hormonal therapy are in the rundown that follows:
- Heat flashes
- Mood swings
- Loss of interest or the inability to participate in sexual activities
- The weakening of bones
- Nausea, followed by diarrhoea
- Enlargement of mammary glands, leading to saggy breasts in females and further accompanied by irregular menstrual cycles
- Dryness in the genital regions
- Fatigue and irritability
Why should one consider hormone therapy?
Although the process of hormone treatment comes at comparatively higher costs and considerable health risks, it still might be worthy of a try. For example, there is still no better option to treat menopausal symptoms in women other than systemic oestrogen. The benefits of hormone treatment usually overcome the probable risks that are associated with it if the individual is healthy enough. Reduced secretion of oestrogen in women’s bodies might cause additional symptoms such as osteoporosis, various heart diseases, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety and other mental disorders along with menopausal symptoms. These can be single-handedly dealt with using this treatment.
As mentioned earlier in the article, hormonal therapy is also used to reduce cancerous symptoms and to make the process of removal of tumours less painful. In such cases, the health risks tend to fall irrelevant when compared to the benefits associated with the treatment. Hence, it is considered to be a comparatively safer form of medication.
Who should be excluded from hormone therapy?
Individuals who have suffered from some form of cancer in earlier lives should avoid considering hormonal therapy. Especially women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer previously and have undergone treatment, endometrial cancer, liver or lungs malfunctioning, unknown vaginal bleeding or blood clots should not take this type of medication.
Precautions to be taken
Needless to say, hormone therapy has its own set of rules, regulations and precautions that need to be followed religiously to ensure proper results and reduced risks. Some of the precautions that are considered mandatory are listed below.
- Quality of products and delivery: The quality of the products that you use for hormone therapy determines a lot of how effective the treatment would be. Another major factor is the method of delivery or application of the products. It varies from person to person and with differentiating symptoms of the issue.
- Minimal quantity: One needs to consider the quantity of each dose taken because an overdose could result in as much or even more amplified complications as an underdosage.
- Follow up: It is further necessary to follow up with your medical advisor while you’re in the process of hormone therapy. Regular examinations and checkups need to be conducted to ensure that the risks of the treatment are outweighed.
- Healthy lifestyles: Like most other medication processes, hormone therapy too needs the individual to follow a healthy lifestyle. The inclusion of balanced diets and physical workout while avoiding any form of addiction helps the body to adapt to the process.
It would not be possible to determine if hormone therapy is boon or a curse. However, even with the number of health hazards that are associated with it, hormone therapy plays an essential role in various aspects in the field of medicine. With everyday developments in technology and medicine, the techniques used in hormone therapy get improved all the time. Thus, it is important that one keeps in touch with one’s doctor all throughout the procedure to avoid complications. Moreover, the requirements of a human body are incredibly dynamic and need constant upgrades in the treatment.