Concussion and Hormone Imbalance
Overcoming Post Concussion Syndrome
Recently, news media has been increasing its scrutiny on sports juries and concussions. It’s easy even for non-sport fans to recall the name of at least one famous athlete who has suffered from post concussion syndrome after years of traumatic brain injuries. This discussion is shedding light on how concussion can lead to long term depression, mood swing, loss of normal thought processing, and degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. What is not general knowledge is the the role hormone deficiency plays in these long term effect of concussion.
The pituitary and the hypothalamus glands are located near the middle of the brain, resting directly on top of the skull bone. When a significant force is applied to the head, these important hormone master glands can easily be injured as it bumps into the sharp edges of the skull bone. This damage may only last 6 months or it may be permanent. Neither brain scan result or the severity of the original injury can predict who will be effected.
These two master hormone glands releases a number of key hormones. The productions of any or all of the hormones listed below may be reduced or terminated as a result of the head injury These hormones in turn effect other bodily functions.
- Thyroid stimulating hormones (tells thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones for metabolism)
- Follicular stimulating hormone (tells ovaries to produce estrogen)
- Luteinizing hormone (stimulates ovulation in women and testosterone production in men)
- Human growth hormone (growth, metabolism, and tissue regeneration)
- adrenalcorticotropic hormone (signals the adrenal gland to produce cortisol hormone)
- Insulin like growth factor
So how does hormone deficiency translate in to clinical symptoms? Here are some frequent misdiagnosis and symptoms for individuals with post concussion syndrome.
Low energy, depression/low motivation, slow tissue repair, chronic pain, feeling cold, poor sleep, weight gain can all be related to low thyroid and adrenal hormone production
Low thyroid and adrenal production may also contribute to poor motivation, poor appetite, poor digestion, and weight gain. Low sex hormone also decreases libido and may alter menstrual cycle.
Memory loss, tremors may actually due to loss of growth hormones. Normally growth hormones protects nerve tissue from damage and promote new neuron growth.
Female fertility is a complicated hormone dance, frequently involving FSH, estrogen, LH, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, prolactin, and even insulin. A hormone imbalance easily effects a woman’s ability to ovulate or maintain a pregnancy. Low testosterone decreases libido in both men and women and may resemble depression. Low testosterone will also decrease sperm count and motility.
The new research that are coming out on concussion does not just changes the way we treat athletes. Clinicians should be reviewing all patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, and dementia to see if they had suffered a motor vehicle accidents or other traumatic brain injury. Hormone replacement may very well bring relief to their current symptoms. The military should do routine hormone screening for soldiers returning from war zone to minimize misdiagnosing post concussion syndrome for post traumatic stress disorder.