Is Your Cortisol Level Under Control?

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

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:

  • Hyperglycemia
  • 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
  • Fatigue
  • 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:

Contact the experts at Any Lab Test Now to learn which test is right for you.

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Succeed at Your Weight Loss Goals

More than a month ago, we cheered as the new year began. Along with the celebrations, people all over the world planned to tackle new goals. For many, that goal was losing weight. Was this you?

When January first rolled around, did you sign up for a gym membership or lace up your sneakers? Did you start watching what you eat and making sure to drink enough water each day? Have you cut back on sweets and alcohol and fatty foods? Congratulations! These are all great steps toward achieving your weight loss goal.

If, despite these efforts, you find that you’re still struggling with unwanted pounds, it could be that your hormones are to blame. Your hormones direct your body to function in certain ways. From emotions and sex drive to appetite and blood sugar levels, your hormones carry information through the body that tells your systems how to act.

When you have too much or too little of a certain hormone, it can mean that your body’s systems are not receiving instructions correctly. For instance, cortisol is a hormone that is released during periods of high stress. It is intended to make sure that your body has enough energy to deal with stressful situations. When you live under significant stress for long periods of time, however, the cortisol levels in your body don’t have a chance to subside. This causes you to continually crave foods that can quickly convert to energy, like sugary snacks. Clearly, this can make fighting cravings more difficult.

Cortisol isn’t the only culprit, however. There are a variety of hormones that contribute to various aspects of your weight. Estrogen and progesterone help to balance fat in the system. Insulin helps to regulate our blood sugar levels. Even low levels of vitamin D or an underactive thyroid can wreak havoc when you’re trying to drop a size.

If you’ve been working hard to lose weight, but the scale simply won’t budge, hormones could be at fault. Finding out if hormones are to blame can be done quickly at your own home. Any Lab Test Now offers a weight management take-home hormone kit that will evaluate your hormone levels and help you and your doctor pinpoint issues so that you can succeed at your weight loss goals. Won’t it be nice to see all your hard work pay off this year?

Posted in Health, hormone lab testing, Hormones, lab testing, Lab Tests, men's health, Wellness, Women's Health | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Frequent Heartburn? Your Health Could Be at Risk

You know it well: that burning sensation you feel in your chest after a big meal, while laying down or sometimes for no apparent reason at all. This frequent and fiery grip on the center of your chest is known as heartburn, and millions of Americans suffer from it every year.

Even though heartburn seems nearly as commonplace in America as a burger and fries, it is certainly not something to ignore when you experience it yourself. That’s because frequent heartburn is more than just a little uncomfortable — it can cause lasting damage to your body and your health. In fact, the condition of frequent heartburn is considered to be a disease — gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD for short, is diagnosed when heartburn interferes with a person’s daily life. While heartburn can be temporarily dealt with using over-the-counter antacid medications, it is important for your health to determine the cause of the heartburn so you can take the necessary steps toward preventing it in the future.

If left untreated, frequent heartburn can cause a number of painful and even dangerous health conditions such as:

Esophageal Strictures, which cause difficulty swallowing as a result of scarring and narrowing of the esophagus due to frequent exposure to stomach acid. This can result in pain when swallowing, as well as difficulty eating and drinking.

Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition caused by long-term exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid through acid reflux. This is a pre-cancerous condition that occurs in about 1 in 100 people who have experienced chronic heartburn for ten years or more.

Esophageal Cancer, which can develop when the esophageal cells become so damaged by stomach acid over time that the cells become cancerous. Even if found early, the survival rate for esophageal cancer is only around 40 percent.

If you suffer from frequent heartburn, it’s time to find out why so you can begin to recover before it’s too late. Any Lab Test Now’s Heartburn Panel includes three tests intended to give you a comprehensive look at why you may be suffering from frequent heartburn or GERD:

A Complete Blood Count will test for blood disorders that can show signs of leukemia, anemia and blood clotting.

A Chemistry Panel will evaluate your blood sugar levels, liver and kidney function, renal function and electrolyte levels.

And an H. Pylori Test will determine the presence of a destructive stomach bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. This bacterium can cause ulcers, heartburn and even stomach cancer. If discovered, an H. pylori infection is easily treated with antibiotics. An H. Pylori Rapid Result Screen is another option to test only for the presence of H. pylori.

The sooner you know what’s wrong, the sooner you can start taking the steps towards better health. Talk to the experts at Any Lab Test Now today to learn what testing options are right for you.

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