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Hypothalamus – Function, Hormones and Disorder

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The human brain, which is made up of the spinal cord and the brain, is the most important organ in the neurological system. The brainstem, cerebellum, and cerebrum are all parts of the brain. It is responsible for digesting, integrating, and coordinating information from the sense organs, as well as determining which directions should be given to the rest of the body. The brain is held in place and protected by the skull bones of the head.


The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that lies beneath the thalamus and forms the third cerebral ventricle’s floor. The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that plays an important role. The pituitary (infundibular) stalk, a tubular connection to the pituitary gland, is a tiny cone-shaped structure that descends down from the brain. The hypothalamus serves as a control center for numerous processes of the autonomic nervous system, as well as has an impact on the endocrine system, due to its convoluted interaction with the pituitary gland.

Anatomy of the Hypothalamus

Nerves and chemicals connect the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.. Numerous neurosecretory cells have nerve endings that travel down via the infundibular stalk into the pituitary gland in the posterior hypothalamus, known as the median eminence. The mammillary bodies, third ventricle, and optic chiasm are all essential structures near the median eminence of the hypothalamus (a part of the visual system). Above the hypothalamus is the thalamus.

Functions of the Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus’ primary function is to maintain as much balance as possible in the body.

Homeostasis refers to a healthy, balanced body. The body is constantly striving for this equilibrium. Hunger, for example, is the brain’s way of informing its owner that more nutrients are required to maintain homeostasis.

To accomplish this, the hypothalamus serves as a connection between the endocrine and neurological systems.

It plays a part in many essential functions of the body such as:

  • Body temperature
  • Thirst
  • Appetite and Weight control
  • Emotions
  • Sleep Cycles
  • Childbirth
  • Production of Digestive Juices 
  • Balances Bodily Fluids 

Because numerous organs and systems of the body transmit information to the brain, the hypothalamus is alerted to any uneven traits that need to be addressed. To rebalance the body, the hypothalamus releases the appropriate hormones into the bloodstream.

The hypothalamus will tell the body to sweat if it receives a signal that the internal temperature is too high. If the body receives a signal that the temperature is too cold, it will shiver to generate heat.

Hormones of the Hypothalamus

In order to maintain homeostasis, the hypothalamus is in charge of creating or controlling various hormones in the body. The pituitary gland, which creates and distributes a range of essential hormones throughout the body, interacts with the hypothalamus.

The endocrine system, which includes the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, controls many of the glands that produce hormones in the body. This system includes the adrenal cortex, gonads, and thyroid.

Hormones secreted by the hypothalamus include:

  1. Antidiuretic Hormone– is a hormone that causes the kidneys to absorb more water into the bloodstream.
  2. The Corticotropin-releasing hormone helps manage metabolism and immune response by collaborating with the pituitary and adrenal glands to create certain steroids.
  3. Oxytocin- is a hormone that plays a role in a variety of functions, including the release of a mother’s breast milk, sleep cycle regulation, and instructing the pituitary gland to generate additional hormones that keep the sexual organs operating. 
  4. GnRH is a hormone that instructs the pituitary gland to release extra hormones in order to keep the sexual organs functioning properly. GnRH is a hormone that instructs the pituitary gland to release extra hormones in order to keep the sexual organs in working order.
  5. In nursing women, prolactin-regulating hormones tell the pituitary gland whether or not to produce breast milk.
  6. Thyrotropin-releasing hormone activates the thyroid, releasing hormones that regulate metabolism, energy levels, and developmental growth.

The brain has an effect on growth hormones as well. It instructs the pituitary gland to raise or decrease its presence in the body, which is critical for both developing children and fully developed adults.

Disorders of the Hypothalamus

Hypothalamic sickness is a condition in which the hypothalamus stops working properly. Many disorders are difficult to pinpoint and diagnose because the hypothalamus plays so many roles in the endocrine system.

The pituitary gland receives instructions from the hypothalamus on how much hormone to release to the rest of the endocrine system. Because it’s difficult for doctors to pinpoint a specific malfunctioning gland, hypothalamic-pituitary problems are sometimes referred to as hypothalamic-pituitary ailments.

Doctors may offer hormone tests to establish the origin of a condition in some cases.

Causes and Risk Factors

Head injuries that injure the hypothalamus are the most common cause of hypothalamic disorders. The hypothalamus can be affected by surgery, radiation, and cancer.

Hypothalamic illness can have a hereditary component in some cases. Kallmann syndrome, for example, causes hypothalamic irregularities in children, such as delayed or absent puberty and a loss of smell.

Prader-Willi Syndrome appears to be genetically connected to hypothalamic dysfunction. A missing chromosome causes low height and hypothalamic malfunction in this syndrome.

The following factors can also cause hypothalamic illness:

  • Bulimia and anorexia.
  • Genetic illnesses create excessive iron buildup in the body.
  • Malnutrition
  • Infections
  • a large amount of blood

Symptoms of Hypothalamus Disorders

Hypothalamic disorders have different symptoms depending on which hormones are lacking.

Symptoms of atypical puberty and growth may appear in children. Adults may have symptoms caused by hormones that their bodies are unable to produce.

There is typically a link between the absence of hormones and the symptoms that they induce in the body. Tumor symptoms include blurred vision, visual loss, and headaches.

Weakness and dizziness are two symptoms of inadequate adrenal function.

Symptoms caused by an overactive thyroid gland include:

  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling irritable
  • Mood swings
  • Tiredness and difficulty sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Constant thirst
  • Itchiness

Conceptual Questions

Question 1: What is the hypothalamus?


The floor of the third cerebral ventricle is formed by the hypothalamus, which lies beneath the thalamus. The hypothalamus is a brain area that plays a crucial role. The pituitary (infundibular) stalk is a tubular connection to the pituitary gland that descends from the brain in a small cone-shaped structure. Because of its complicated relationship with the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus acts as a control center for several processes of the autonomic nervous system, as well as having an impact on the endocrine system.

Question 2: What is the hypothalamus’s location in the brain?


The hypothalamus is a shape on the bottom of the brain. It is located incredibly underneath the thalamus and barely above the pituitary gland, to which it’s miles related through a stalk.

Question 3: Why is the hypothalamus so important?


The majority of the body’s number one hormones are induced with the beneficial useful resource of the use of chemical symptoms and symptoms from the hypothalamus, which beneficial useful resource development, metabolism, and suitable functioning.

The hypothalamus then communicates with those hormones to gain facts approximately the body’s functioning. Damage to the hypothalamus may also cause one or greater of those hormone structures to malfunction, ensuing in catastrophic effects which consist of the cessation of hormone production.

Question 4: What are some problems with the hypothalamus?


Nutritional difficulties include eating disorders (anorexia) and extreme weight loss. Aneurysms, pituitary apoplexy, and subarachnoid hemorrhage are all examples of blood vessel illnesses in the brain. Genetic disorders include Prader-Willi syndrome, hereditary diabetes insipidus, and Kallmann syndrome.

Question 5: Why is the hypothalamus known as the body’s thermostat??


The hypothalamus, a small part of the brain located behind the eyes, is the thermostat in humans. It can make you tremble and sweat, which can both warm and cool your body. The hypothalamus regulates hunger, thirst, sex drive, and other physiological activities.

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Last Updated : 16 Jun, 2022
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