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What is Hypersecretion?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Hypersecretion is an excessive secretion of a substance made by the body. When broken down into its component parts, the word literally means “too much secretion.” There are a number of reasons why someone might experience hypersecretion, some of which are causes for concern. Others are relatively normal and no medical treatment or intervention is required when they occur.

Hormones are a substance which can commonly be hypersecreted, usually as a result of an ongoing medical issue. Some conditions characterized by hormone hypersecretion are known by the hormone or gland involved, as in hyperpituitarism, hypergonadism, and hyperaldosteronism. People can produce too many hormones because of an endocrine imbalance, damage to the gland, or an attempt to cope with a disease.

When hormones are secreted in excess, people often develop physical and sometimes emotional symptoms. Hormones act like messengers inside the body and when there are too many messengers, the body can put on or lose weight, develop excessive body hair, start to retain water, and develop other symptoms. A hormone hypersecretion can be diagnosed with a blood test to check hormone levels, and with study of the gland involved. Treatments can include removal of the gland, drugs to suppress hormone, or medications to treat a condition which is impacting the endocrine system.

Another common area of hypersecretion is the eye. The eye produces a lubricating fluid which can be produced in excess when people are upset, leading to tears. Tears are not harmful or a cause for worry, although they can cause blurry vision, and sometimes the eye can feel irritated if someone cries for a prolonged period of time. Other glands in the head which produce saliva may also hypersecrete in response to stimuli or as the result of disease, and, likewise, some people sweat excessively when they are stressed or coping with disease.

Sometimes people sweat, cry, or salivate so excessively that they start to feel uncomfortable in social situations or experience other problems. In these cases, a doctor may recommend treatment such as severing some of the nerves in the area to reduce the secretions and bring them down to a more manageable level. However, this is only recommended in extreme cases because there can be complications. Hyperhydrosis, the production of too much sweat, is a hypersecretion syndrome for which surgery is sometimes recommended. Before undergoing surgery, patients should make sure that they understand the risks, and they should ask the surgeon about his or her experience with the surgery.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Malachis — On Jun 10, 2011

Virilization in women is also a side effect of steroid use. Anyone using anabolic steroids should not assume that these side effects are related to hypersecretion of testosterone. The adrenal gland should be examined by a medical professional to determine if an issue of hypersecretion exists in those who use steroids recreationally.

By jmosh — On Jun 08, 2011

Another issue with hypersecretion in women is virilization. I saw a documentary on this the other day, and it was really kind of frightening.

It's not only physically distressing, but also emotionally distressing, causing problems with body image, low self-esteem, and feeling uncomfortable in one's own body. Because of this extreme discomfort with their more masculine appearance, women affected by virilization might become socially withdrawn. They may stop associating with friends and family, feel anxious in social situations, or become depressed.

Virilization can also happen during development in the womb. A female fetus may be exposed to increased levels of testosterone at a certain stage, leading to masculine appearance and development while maintaining female genitalia. This can lead to gender identity disorder, which can cause extreme emotional distress throughout life.

By M1ddle — On Jun 07, 2011

@aiwa -- I hope this helps -- bear with me if I get a little technical.

In a nutshell, adrenal hypersecretion is associated with hypersecretion of the neurotransmitter ACTH, which may lead to the overproduction of testosterone, cortisol, or epinephrine. This type of hypersecretion may be caused by tumors in the adrenal gland, which can be removed surgically or treated with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy to help regulate the production of these hormones.

Not only are the tumors themselves dangerous, but the excess hormones may cause diseases like Cushing's Syndrome. This occurs when the adrenal gland produces too much cortisol. Cushing's Syndrome can cause health complications such as high blood pressure, increased upper body fat, decreased fertility in men, and excess hair growth and irregular menstrual cycles in women. People with type II diabetes who are also obese have an increased risk for developing this disease.

Another disorder associated with the hypersecretion of ACTH in the adrenal gland is virilization. Virilization is characterized by the development of more masculine features such as increased muscle strength, deepening voice, acne, facial hair, and loss of menstruation in adolescent or adult females. While virilization in adolescent males is a normal part of puberty, this is abnormal for women and can cause physiological, psychological, and social problems.

By Aiwa4 — On Jun 05, 2011

Can anybody tell me more about adrenal hypersecretion? I have a paper due for my biology class next week and I'm having a hard time finding information that I can actually understand. Everything I find is either super-technical, or so simplistic as to be useless. Can anybody help me out?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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