At a recent conference I learned that the Pituitary Gland of the people who have survived these health challenges may be affected. Not only can the pituitary gland be affected by an IED (improvised explosive device) injury, Lyme Disease and whiplash, but sports injuries (soccer, football and sports where the athlete endures multiple body and head blows) as well.
Why is the Pituitary gland such a big deal?
Well, the Pituitary Gland is also called the "master gland" and as such it is probably the most important gland we have.
The pituitary gland is a tiny organ, the size of a pea, found at the base of the brain. As the master gland of the body, it produces and secretes many hormones that travel throughout the body, directing certain processes and stimulating other glands to produce different types of hormones. The pituitary gland controls biochemical processes important to our well-being.
The pituitary gland makes these types of hormones:
* Prolactin - Prolactin stimulates milk production from the breasts after childbirth to enable nursing. It also affects sex hormone levels from ovaries in women and from testes in men.
* Growth hormone (GH) - GH stimulates growth in childhood and is important for maintaining a healthy body composition and well-being in adults. In adults it is important for maintaining muscle mass as well as bone mass. It also affects fat distribution in the body.
* Adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) - ACTH stimulates the production of cortisol by the adrenal glands. Cortisol, a so-called "stress hormone" is vital to our survival. It helps to maintain blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
* Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) - TSH stimulates the thyroid gland, which regulates the body's metabolism, energy, growth, and nervous system activity. This hormone is also vital to our survival.
* Anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) - ADH, also called vasopressin, regulates water balance. If this hormone is not released properly, it can lead to too little hormone (called diabetes insipidus), or too much hormone (called syndrome of inappropriate ADH). Both of these conditions affect the kidneys. Diabetes insipidus is different from the more well-known diabetes mellitus, or type II diabetes, which affects the levels of glucose in our bodies.
* Luteinizing hormone (LH) - LH regulates testosterone in men and estrogen in women.
* Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) - FSH promotes sperm production in men and stimulates the ovaries to enable ovulation in women. Luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone work together to cause normal function of the ovaries and testes.
We now have a panel of tests to help diagnose dysfunction in the Pituitary Gland and more importantly treatments that have improved, or in many cases resolved, the physical and mental issues suffered by those diagnosed with these issues. Talk about life changing. More good news is that most insurance companies will pay for the lab testing, and based upon the lab results will usually cover the cost for medications.
National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, is an integrative medicine and dental center serving the Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia metro area.