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Functions of Hypothalamus & What Happens if it Gets Damaged?

Function of Hypothalamus

Hypothalamus is a part of the brain that is in the center of the brain containing multiple small nuclei having various functions. One of the most important functions of hypothalamus is that it connects the nervous system to the endocrine system through the pituitary gland. Its important role is that it helps in the production of hormones and helps in stimulating many important processes in the body.

The hormones from the hypothalamus takes care of physiological functions like regulating the temperature, thirst, hunger sleep mood, sex drive, besides this it also releases the hormones of various organs within the human body. Hypothalamus is one of the major glands of the endocrine system.

In the hypothalamus, there are two sets of nerve cells producing certain hormones. One of the set of nerve cells that produces hormone is sent down to the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland through the pituitary stalk where the hormones are directly released into the blood stream. These hormones are oxytocin and anti-diuretic hormones.

Hypothalamus tries to keep the body in the balanced state, which is known as homeostasis. Therefore, it acts as link between nervous system and endocrine system.

Function of Hypothalamus

Different Essential Functions of Hypothalamus are:

  • Maintains body temperature.
  • Thirst.
  • Appetite and weight control.
  • Emotions.
  • Sleep cycles.
  • Sex drive.
  • Child birth.
  • Heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Secretion of digestive juices.
  • Balancing of body fluids.

Once the brain starts getting signals from different parts of the body, hypothalamus will come to know which part of the body is not receiving the balance and immediately it will respond by releasing the right hormone into the blood stream for maintaining the balance of the body.

Hypothalamus secretes different hormones for balancing of the body such as:

  • Anti-diuretic hormone which will try to check how much water is absorbed into the blood by the kidneys.
  • Gonadotropin releasing hormones makes the pituitary gland to release hormones to activate the sexual organs.
  • Thyrotropin releasing hormones activates the thyroid to release hormones to regulate metabolism, development of growth and energy levels.
  • Prolactin controlling hormones helps the pituitary gland to either start or stop the production of breast milk for feeding mothers.
  • Corticotropin-releasing hormones works with the pituitary glands and adrenal glands to promote metabolism and immune response to release certain steroids.
  • Hypothalamus also affects the growth hormones.

If there is any disorder that stops the functioning of hypothalamus it will be known as hypothalamic disease. Once the hypothalamus gets damaged or has some kind of disorder then the hypothalamus function is disturbed. In certain cases it becomes difficult to diagnose which of the gland is not working properly which is called hypothalamus pituitary disorders.

Hypothalamus is also known as the master switchboard, which controls the secretions of the pituitary glands. When it is stimulated it secretes some stimulants and releases hormones in the anterior pituitary similarly on the posterior pituitary. It helps in changing the heart rate and arterial pressure.

The function of each and every organ is dependent on the hypothalamus secretions, which convey the messages to the brain to perform the action and in what manner. It is one of the most important glands in the body.

Sometimes head injuries lead to hypothalamus disease, and sometimes even surgeries, radiation as well as tumors can affect the hypothalamus.

It functions as a monitor and regulates circuit control in the brain.

Hypothalamus is one of the most important glands that secrete important hormones responsible for various functions.

What Happens if Hypothalamus Gets Damaged?

When the hypothalamus gets damaged it can cause several problems that can lead to many disorders. In order to keep the body healthy one has to maintain low risk, though the diseases of hypothalamus are very uncommon.

Hormones in the body controls various functions in the body, if it gets damaged then the functions will not be done by the body and it will remain at the mercy of the other inputs.

Secondly our body is unable to bear critical changes in our body function, which can lead to deranged glucose levels. Since there are several changes happening in the body due to hypothalamus damage, it would be wide spread in the body causing changes in the body.

Hormonal imbalance can cause sleep disorders as well as appetite changes causing growth problems. It can cause insomnia as the thalamus is involved in wake and sleep cycle, which can also be a permanent sleep problem.

Damage of hypothalamus is also concerned in some movement disorder, which involves involuntary muscle contraction because the thalamus is involved in passing information on motor nerve from one place of the brain to the other.

Precautionary measures should be taken and avoid any kind of injury to the head or skull in order to prevent further problems.


  1. Physiology: “Hypothalamus”: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279396/
  2. Verywell Health: “The Role of the Hypothalamus in the Endocrine System”: https://www.verywellhealth.com/hypothalamus-anatomy-4770812
  3. Hormones and Behavior: “The Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland: Historical Overview and Contemporary Perspectives”: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1853298/
  4. Frontiers in Neurology: “Thalamic Atrophy Predicts Cognitive Impairment in Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis”: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2020.00789/full
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 11, 2023

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