Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.
Your mind may naturally wander to puberty when you think about hormones gone wild, but truth be told, hormones can wreak havoc throughout your lifetime.
Multiple factors affect the presence of hormones in the body, including growth spurts, stress, menopause, puberty, and other disease processes.
There are a number of hormones involved in blood sugar regulation. You may have heard these thrown around in conversation: glucagon, cortisol, growth hormone, and insulin. Yes, insulin is also a hormone.
Insulin is the common denominator in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes; insulin is low in type 1 diabetics because of antibodies destroying the insulin makers (beta cells), and for those with type 2 diabetes, insulin isn't used properly because of faulty processing by the body.
Glucagon has a one job—to raise blood sugars released overnight and between meals for blood sugar maintenance. It's sort of like the body's gas pump. According to UCSF, "Unfortunately, in individuals with diabetes, the opposite occurs. While eating, their glucagon levels rise, which causes blood sugar levels to rise after the meal."
Cortisol and adrenaline are stress hormones released in large amounts when we are scared or sense danger, followed by a dump of sugar into the blood stream. Daily stress keeps cortisol levels high, impacting sleep, weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar control.
Growth hormone is exactly what it sounds like, and it can be the thorn in a parent's side when trying to control their child's blood sugar. Kids are constantly growing, creating invisible difficulties. Kids are known to grow two inches between endocrinology appointments.
Thyroid issues. Both hyper and hypothyroidism are commonplace in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, affecting the diabetes balancing act.
What is a hormone imbalance?
Hormone imbalances can be an inharmonious mess. When one of them is out of whack, it throws the whole delicate performance off.
Hormone imbalances may reveal themselves through "mood swings, fatigue, migraines, memory problems, and a lackluster sex drive," according to Diabetes Health.
Dr. David Bradley of Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center spoke to Diabetes Health about the "domino effect" diabetes hormones can have with other bodily hormones, such as stress hormones and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone). In fact, nearly 20 to 30 percent of men with diabetes may be affected by erectile dysfunction (ED). Women with type 2 diabetes may have elevated levels of male hormones, polycystic ovarian disease (20 to 30 percent of women), and infertility issues.
How do I improve my hormones gone haywire?
You have options.
Diet, exercise, birth control pills, hormone management for men, and medications for ED may be suggestions offered by your healthcare provider.
Studies at Duke University found relaxation techniques were effective at decreasing A1c results type 2 diabetes—having a larger impact than exercise and diet alone.
Don't let stress get the best of you. Yoga, meditation, and quiet time by yourself may be the cheapest kickstart toward diabetes health.
Be aware of your hormones and how they can affect your blood glucose levels. If you can get your hormones under control, you might find that your diabetes management improves over time.