The human body relies on intricately calibrated natural chemicals called hormones to control the function of many organs and cells. Hormonal imbalances that result in too much, or too little, of those chemicals cause problems that range from minor to life-threatening. Fortunately, many hormonal imbalances can be treated with medications that often come in simple pill form.
Addison's disease is a hormonal imbalance caused by the adrenal gland's inability to produce enough cortisol, a hormone that manages the body's response to stress. Cortisol also regulates the body's immune system and metabolism, and helps process nutrients into energy. Symptoms of Addison's disease include fatigue, weak muscles, low blood pressure, low blood sugar and a darkening of the skin. Doctors prescribe hydrocortisone tablets and prednisone pills to treat Addison's disease.
Aldosterone is a another hormone produced by the adrenal gland that regulates the amounts of sodium and potassium in blood. When aldosterone production is knocked out of balance, the body often loses potassium and retains too much sodium, which can lead to excessive water retention and high blood pressure. Doctors prescribe spironolactone tablets to block the production of aldosterone, and correct and control blood pressure. However, these tablets also block other hormones and can cause, among other things, enlarged male breasts and a decrease in sexual desire. Eplernone tablets also control aldosterone with fewer side effects.
Menopause, which marks the end of menstruation in women, is accompanied by a decrease in the hormone oestrogen. A lack of, or imbalance, of oestrogen causes fatigue, hot flashes, insomnia and other problems. To relieve those symptoms, doctors prescribe an oestrogen replacement pill made from the urine of pregnant horses. Doctors may also prescribe mild antidepressants or an anti-seizure drug to treat hot flashes.
The thyroid gland produces the hormones thyroxine and tri-iodothyronine, which control metabolism. Some people experience an imbalance or insufficient amount of those hormones and suffer from a condition called hypothyroidism, which causes fatigue, weight gain, muscle aches and depression. Doctors prescribe a variety of pills to replace those vital hormones. In many cases, patients are monitored to ensure that the pill is delivering enough synthetic hormone for a patient. Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid and Unithroid are among the most common pills prescribed to fight hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is a hormone imbalance that occurs when the thyroid secretes too much thyroxine, according to Thyroid-info. The most common cause of an overactive thyroid is Graves disease, an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies are produced to control proteins on the thyroid. The gland reacts by overproducing thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism dramatically speeds up the body's metabolism and often causes sudden and rapid weight loss, heart palpitations, sweating and irritability. Although propylthiouracil pills are one of the traditional medications used to treat hyperthyroidism, in 2009 the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that the drug can cause liver failure. The other pill commonly prescribed to treat hyperthyroidism is methimazole. In many cases, doctors also prescribe capsules of radioactive iodine, which shrinks the thyroid, slows the production of the thyroxine and re-establishes a hormonal balance.
Hypoparathyroidism is a hormonal imbalance or deficiency of the parathyroid hormone, which regulates the body's calcium and phosphorus levels. Hypoparathyroidism can cause muscle aches, leg cramps, and a burning sensation in the fingers and toes. Calcium supplements and medications that contain calcium carbonate are prescribed to treat this imbalance.