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Hypothalamus

Definition

The hypothalamus is an area of the brain that produces hormones that control:

  • Body temperature
  • Hunger
  • Mood
  • Release of hormones from many glands, especially the pituitary gland
  • Sex drive
  • Sleep
  • Thirst
  • Heart rate

Information

HYPOTHALAMIC DISEASE

Hypothalamic dysfunction can occur as a result of diseases, including:

  • Genetic causes (often present at birth or during childhood)
  • Injury as a result of trauma, surgery or radiation
  • Infection or inflammation

SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHALAMIC DISEASE

Because the hypothalamus controls so many different functions, hypothalamic disease can have many different symptoms, depending on the cause. The most common symptoms are:

  • Increased appetite and rapid weight gain
  • Extreme thirst and frequent urination (diabetes insipidus)
  • Low body temperature
  • Slow heart rate

References

Giustina A, Braunstein GD. Hypothalamic syndromes. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 10.

Hall JE. Pituitary hormones and their control by the hypothalamus. In: Hall JE, ed. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 76.


Review Date: 10/28/2015
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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