Archives for April 2019

Marla Ahlgrimm | Vision Issues Related to Hormone Fluctuations

Marla AhlgrimmIt’s easy to think that the eyes are separate from the rest of the body. After all, they move independently and require the care of a specially-trained doctor. However, as Marla Ahlgrimm explains, hormones can affect the eyes. Sudden vision changes may be a sign of a hormone imbalance.

Q: When do people typically experience vision-related changes associated with hormone fluctuation?

Marla Ahlgrimm: It is not uncommon for people entering puberty to become nearsighted. This is because the body is utilizing hormones to grow, and grow rapidly. This uptick in size is most evident in height and muscle mass, but the eyes are growing, too. After the teen years, when hormones begin to balance, vision typically stabilizes. Most pediatricians recommend a full evaluation by a qualified optometrist yearly during and after adolescence.

Q: Does birth control affect vision?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Any substance you put into the body that affects hormones can change your vision. This applies to birth control, but also anti-anxiety medicines, antidepressants, and antihistamines. Further, women who are pregnant may experience hormone changes that can trigger dry or watery eyes. This could make it difficult to wear contact lenses until after giving birth.

Q: Are hormones responsible for age-related vision loss?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Partly, yes. Many people mistakenly believe that the eyes “wear down” with age. This is not necessarily the case. Hormones, or a lack thereof, such as during menopause or when a man has low testosterone levels, can also trigger a decline in vision.

Q: Are vision changes normal?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes. When your hormones change, other parts of the body will follow suit. However, I would certainly suggest speaking with your doctor if you notice sudden changes, especially if they hinder your ability to see even with corrective lenses.

Marla Ahlgrimm: All About the Endocrine System

Marla AhlgrimmYou might be familiar with your respiratory system and your cardiovascular system, but Marla Ahlgrimm says that many people aren’t quite as acquainted with the endocrine system. The author and women’s health expert says this is a shame since the endocrine system is more or less the body’s control panel.

Q: What is the endocrine system?

Marla Ahlgrimm: This is an extensive network of glands that both manufacture and deliver hormones throughout the body. The endocrine system releases hormones that play a role in heart, tissue, and bone development. Its health also determines whether or not you develop certain diseases, including growth disorders, diabetes, and hormone disorders.

Q: How many glands make up the system?

Marla Ahlgrimm: There are more than a dozen glands within the endocrine system. The thyroid, for example, is a gland in the neck with the very important job of keeping your metabolism in check. The lesser-known pineal gland is located deep inside the brain and affects sleep. Specifically for women, the ovaries are another important part of the endocrine system and are essential to human reproduction.

Q: What are some common endocrine disorders?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Diabetes is the most well known. This is when your body is unable to use or produce insulin, a hormone related to blood sugar (glucose) usage. Less common is acromegaly, or gigantism, which causes people to grow exceptionally fast. The thyroid gland can be affected with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism which is where the body produces too much or too little thyroid hormone respectively.

Q: Are endocrine disorders treatable?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Some are. Modern medicine has made it possible to identify and treat common system disorders. Some women with ovarian disorders may find hormone therapy effective while others may need to have tumors or other lesions removed to return the body back to normal. Diabetes and thyroid issues can often be managed with medications.

Marla Ahlgrimm on the Link Between Hormones and Depression

Marla AhlgrimmDepression is one of the most common complaints among women, says Marla Ahlgrimm. In fact, across the globe, and despite economic status, race, and social standing, women overwhelmingly experience downturned emotions more often than their male counterparts.

Marla Ahlgrimm explains that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, including depression, than men. One potential reason for this is that women are often more open to being treated for depressive symptoms. However, women’s bodies experience many more hormonal changes than men, which no doubt contributes to the instances of depression among the fairer sex.

There is much that science still has to learn about the brain and how hormones affect it. One thing that is known, however, is that hormones are dictated by certain brain functions and that many of the same hormones can have a negative influence on the parts of the brain that regulate mood and emotion. An area this is seen is in women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, PMDD. This group is at a higher risk of depression than those who do not report premenstrual symptoms.

According to Marla Ahlgrimm, there are ways to offset the symptoms of depression. The first, she explains, is to pay attention to your overall health. This will include eating well, spending time with friends and family, and sleeping at least seven hours every night. These actions work together to give the mind and body everything they require to be strong and healthy.

Women who experience long-lasting depression that gets worse during their period may benefit from talking to their doctor about hormonal birth control. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that birth control can be used to help stabilize hormones. The drawback of this, however, is that it is virtually impossible to become pregnant while taking birth control. Marla Ahlgrimm cautions that women who are already depressed may be at a greater risk of postpartum depression and should consult with their healthcare team prior to conception.

© 2019 Marla Ahlgrimm. All Rights Reserved.