Are there any hypothalamic dysfunction tests?
Your hypothalamus is probably one of the most important organs in your entire body. It controls your metabolism, your hormones, your immune system, and your neurotransmitters.
The problem is that it is difficult to test for hypothalamic dysfunction. That’s because hormones that your hypothalamus makes only produce within the hypothalamus. They communicate directly to the pituitary gland.
There are a couple of hormones that you can measure. Vasopressin and oxytocin. You can measure vasopressin in your blood if you have low blood sodium levels or persistent thirst. Also if you have frequent urination and dehydration. You can measure oxytocin levels in blood, breast milk, urine, saliva, and cerebral spinal fluid. But each of these fluids is limited when you want to show actual oxytocin production.
However, the majority of hypothalamus hormones work centrally and you cannot measure them.
Because of this, it’s difficult to determine hypothalamus dysfunction by laboratory tests. It takes a good medical detective to figure out if the hypothalamus is dysfunctional. A medical detective trained in neuro-immune-endocrinology relies on your signs and symptoms. All to determine hypothalamus function. For instance, the hypothalamus controls body temperature regulation. Signs of hypothalamic dysfunction include hot flashes, night sweats, profuse sweat, or feeling cold all the time.
When you get a diagnosis of diabetes insipidus, it is a clear sign of hypothalamic dysfunction. Diabetes Insipidus is an imbalance in your hypothalamus’s production of vasopressin. This is also known as the antidiuretic hormone. People with social disorders and the inability to bond with others may have low oxytocin levels. This is a sign of hypothalamus dysfunction as well.
Now, we can go downstream and test your endocrine glands to determine if your hypothalamus is dysfunctional. One gland out of balance is not necessarily hypothalamic dysfunction. But low thyroid function with low free T3, low free T4, and also low TSH is a miscommunication between the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. It is also a sign of hypothalamus dysfunction.
The same goes with the HPA axis or the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Adrenal Fatigue is not usually recognized in medicine. But we can diagnose Cushing’s and Addison’s disease with either a dexamethasone suppression test for Cushing’s disease or an ACTH challenge. This is if we suspect Addison’s disease.
While these adrenal diseases are not common, adrenal dysfunction is not rare.
Chronic stress, malnutrition, and toxicity, as well as infections, will cause adrenal dysfunction. Yet, the issue is not in the adrenals, but in the hypothalamus. This is because the hypothalamus controls adrenal production of cortisol and DHEA. Sluggish adrenals are often a result of not getting the stimulus needed from the hypothalamus to function properly. In people who are under chronic stress, or have severe depression or bipolar condition, their hypothalamus tends to be smaller. The waste is in the part of the hypothalamus that controls the adrenals: the HPA axis.
I perform a positional blood pressure test if I suspect adrenal dysfunction.
Besides stress hormones, your adrenals also produce aldosterone. Aldosterone is partially controlled by vasopressin, one of the hormones that the hypothalamus makes. How much sodium and potassium in your blood can impact aldosterone levels. But your hypothalamic production of vasopressin is key in the control of aldosterone production. You can determine aldosterone function when you check blood pressure while you are lying down. Then immediately when you stand. Your blood pressure should rise 10 to 20 points when you change positions from lying to standing. If it doesn’t, your aldosterone production is low.
Infertility is often the root of hypothalamic dysfunction.
It is often hypothalamus dysfunction when you are unable to get pregnant. Even if your prolactin level is normal, your TSH is normal, and you have enough progesterone. When you support the hypothalamus with nutraceuticals, you can finally conceive.
It’s not easy to test for hypothalamus dysfunction. But it can be done through a proper assessment.
You can figure out what is out of balance when you take a thorough history, do a thorough physical exam, and some simple induction tests.
If you have questions about hypothalamus dysfunction. As well as what tests you need if you do have a dysfunctional hypothalamus. Join me in our Hormone Support Group! You can get access it through our free Hormone Reboot Training.