Hypothalamic dysfunction refers to a condition where the hypothalamus, a small region at the base of the brain does not function properly. This, in turn, hampers the functioning of the adrenal glands, ovaries, testes, and thyroid. Hypothalamic dysfunction can affect various functions of the body including the person's sex drive, weight, body clock, emotions, behaviour and childbirth.

Causes

There are many factors that can cause hypothalamic dysfunction. It is important to identify the factors causing this condition because the treatment is dependent on them. The most common causes of hypothalmic dysfunction are:

  • Birth Defects - Birth defects that can cause hypothalamic dysfunction are septo-optic dysplasia and holoprosencephaly.
  • Genetic Disorders - This includes disorders such as growth hormone deficiency and Prader-Willi syndrome.
  • Eating Disorders and Malnutrition - Anorexia and Bulimia can affect the functioning of the hypothalamus and result in hypothalamic dysfunction. Eating disorders and malnutrition can keep the brain from receiving the nutrition it requires.
  • Tumours - Tumours of the brain such as germinomas, craniopharyngiomas, meningiomas, ependymomas, and gliomas affecting the optic nerve can result in this condition. These tumours can put pressure on the hypothalamus compressing it and compress the blood vessels leading to the hypothalamus which affects its optimum functionality.
  • Head Trauma - Injuries to the head sustained during birth or in sports such as boxing can trigger this condition. Injuries suffered from a penetrating projectile are also common causes of this condition.
  • Infections - This includes infections caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
  • Excessive Iron - High concentration of iron deposits in the brain can affect the hypothalamus's ability to secrete essential hormones.
  • Autoimmune Disorder
  • Cranial Radiation
  • Hypothalamic dysfunction

In some cases, there may be no particular cause that causes the condition. Such cases are known as idiopathic hypothalamic dysfunction.

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