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How a Chemical Imbalance Affects Your Body

by
author image Wendy Melton
Wendy Melton is a natural health consultant. She is also a personal trainer, certified herbalist and massage therapist. Melton has been a professional freelance writer since 2007 with contributions to various online publications. She is a graduate of Clayton College with a master's degree in natural health.
How a Chemical Imbalance Affects Your Body
Doctor checking a patient's blood pressure Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

The human body is a finely tuned mechanism that relies on chemical components to maintain a constant state of balance. This state of being in balance is called homeostasis. If one or more of these chemicals fall out of balance from either an increase or a decrease in their levels, this may cause the systems of the body to work less efficiently. Chemical imbalances can occur for a number of reasons and may affect the body in a variety of ways.

Serotonin

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain. At normal levels a person will experience a variety of emotions and function efficiently. When serotonin levels begin to drop due to chemical changes in the body, drug interactions or disease, a person's personality may begin to change. Depression and bipolar disorder may occur. Decreased serotonin levels can lead to chronic fatigue, sleep disorders and changes in appetite, according to Merck.

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that opens up microscopic pathways and allows glucose to enter the cells. At normal levels, enough insulin is produced and used by the body to allow adequate glucose to be absorbed by the cells for energy. If levels begin to drop, diabetes may be the result.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system backfires and destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can result in little or no insulin, allowing glucose to build up in the bloodstream.

Type 2 diabetes is the result of cells resisting the insulin that is produced. The cells do not allow insulin to open the pathways to let glucose in. The pancreas produces more insulin due to the rising levels of glucose in the blood, but the cells are not receptive and glucose levels continue to rise.

Pituitary Hormone Imbalances

The pituitary gland is a small gland located at the base of the brain. It produces hormones that regulate blood pressure, growth and some aspects of the reproductive system. In rare cases, hypopituitarism occurs, which is the result of decreased levels of pituitary hormones. This can cause disruptions in normal body functions like blood pressure and heart rate.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the over-production of pituitary hormones results in a disorder known as acromegaly. This can result in production of abnormal amounts of growth hormone. Acromegaly is characterized by certain areas of the body becoming larger than normal and out of proportion with the rest of the body. This excess growth usually appears in the hands, feet and face. Acromegaly usually occurs in middle age after most growth has normally stopped. If an abundance of growth hormone is present during adolescence, gigantism may result.

Metabolic Imbalances

A person's metabolism sets the stage for his weight, appetite and energy levels. An underactive thyroid that produces little thyroid hormone can cause heart disease, fatigue and obesity, according to the Mayo Clinic. A thyroid that produces too much hormone can make it difficult for a person to maintain a healthy weight.

Disorders that cause the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol can cause a person to gain weight in the abdominal area of the body. This is called Cushing's syndrome. Other disorders cause the body to produce lower than normal levels of cortisol. Cortisol helps to maintain blood pressure, blood glucose levels and energy levels.

Reproductive System Imbalances

Chemical imbalances in the reproductive system can cause infertility and low sex drive in both men and women. Low levels of estrogen and testosterone can affect sexual performance and cause fertility to be questioned.

High levels of testosterone in men can cause aggression and an overabundance of muscle mass. In women, high levels of testosterone can cause male pattern baldness and excessive hair growth on the face and chest. It can also cause the voice to deepen and become more masculine.

Low levels of estrogen in women can affect menstrual periods as well as the woman's ability to get pregnant and carry the child to term. Excessive amounts of estrogen are thought to cause breast and other types of cancer in women, according to Merck.

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