Your child’s body relies on hormones to perform daily bodily functions. From sleeping to metabolizing food, hormones are a vital part of life. However, when your child’s hormones are not balanced properly, adverse symptoms that require treatment can occur.
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Hormones are regulated by the endocrine system. This system includes the pituitary, thyroid, pancreas and adrenal glands. Each of these glands is responsible for releasing specific hormones that control body functions. When appropriate hormone levels are not released—or too much is released—a hormonal imbalance occurs.
A number of conditions related to hormonal imbalance can affect young males and females. For boys, hormonal imbalances can cause early-onset puberty, obesity, poor appetite, jaundice, hair loss and slow bone growth, according to Newport Children’s Medical Group. In girls, hormonal imbalance issues include early-onset puberty, excess facial hair, moodiness, sleep problems and delayed menstruation.
Many conditions associated with hormonal imbalances are passed off as other conditions. For example, childhood obesity may be attributed to a lack of diet and exercise when a hormonal imbalance is actually to blame; bad behavior may be blamed on irritability instead of a thyroid imbalance. However, children with hormonal imbalances often experience additional symptoms such as slow growth, dry skin, unexplained fatigue or constipation, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. If you suspect your child has a hormonal imbalance, discuss the possibility with your pediatrician.
Treatment for a child’s hormonal imbalance often depends upon the severity of her condition. A physician may prescribe medications or hormone therapies to correct imbalances. Changes in diet and exercise also may be recommended. In severe cases, surgery to remove tumors created by hormone imbalances may be recommended.
A growing problem among young athletes is the increase in hormone abuse, particularly of anabolic steroids used to achieve rapid growth. These medications affect normal hormone balances, causing a self-created imbalance. Because the long-term effects of these drugs are unknown, it is important for young people to refrain from using them. If you suspect your child is taking these hormones, seek medical help immediately.