Fight or flight. We’re sure you’ve heard of it, and that you know it’s your body’s instinctual reaction to a stressful situation. In modern times, stressors in your life aren’t always a result of the presence of physical danger, such as a grizzly bear who wants you to be its next meal. Most people nowadays feel these reactions when everyday life gets a little stressful — if you have a tight deadline at work, if you have a big fight with your spouse or if you realize you forgot to pay that bill on time. All of these situations can result in the same stressed-out feelings — an increased heart rate and a burst of energy, to name a few — which are famously caused by a hormone called adrenaline.
But what you may not know is that during a stressful situation, another hormone is at play: cortisol. Cortisol is released to help your body deal with stress, but if your cortisol level is out of control, it can do more harm than good.
Cortisol, or hydrocortisone, is a hormone that is released into the body in response to stress. It helps your body respond to stressful situations by increasing your blood sugar, enhancing your brain’s use of glucose and increasing the availability of substances that repair tissues. Additionally, cortisol suppresses body functions that would be nonessential in a fight-or-flight situation such as your immune system response, digestive system and reproductive system. All of these responses are intended for survival, but what happens when your cortisol levels don’t return to normal after the stressor is gone, or if you don’t have enough cortisol in the first place?
Too much cortisol in the body can cause a number of dangerous conditions including:
- Weight gain and obesity
- Decreased bone density
- Compromised immune and inflammation responses
- Increased blood pressure and damage to the heart
- Cushing Syndrome
While it is most often caused by chronic stress, the overproduction of cortisol can also be a result of long-term use of corticosteroids, a tumor on the pituitary or adrenal gland, or cancer.
Too little cortisol in the body can be problematic as well, causing:
- Weight loss
- Low blood pressure
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Loss of consciousness
All of these can be very serious problems, and dangerous to your health. If you are experiencing any of the issues listed above, but don’t know why, it’s time to find out what’s really going on. Take the first step towards better health by testing your cortisol level. Any Lab Test Now offers several options for cortisol testing:
- The Cortisol Lab Test is a blood test used to measure the level of cortisol in the blood.
- The Saliva Cortisol Test can determine your cortisol level by taking a saliva sample.
Contact the experts at Any Lab Test Now to learn which test is right for you.