Are you stressed about certain issues? Is stress taking you away from the normal course of life? Often, it happens that people are under a lot of stress but they barely understand it. This is majorly because of the lack of symptoms. The stress and anxiety will not showcase the symptoms in all conditions.
In case of other health issues, you have several tests that help you with firsthand data about the condition of your health. How can you measure stress? Rather, how can you acknowledge the stress levels in your body? Well, private blood tests can measure your stress levels. Yes, you read that right. How is that possible? If you want to find an answer to this question, here’s your solution.
A necessary blood test to determine the stress level is the cortisol level test. Since most of you are not aware of the cortisol level test, here is a blog on the same. In this blog, you will get to know about the function of cortisol, the importance of cortisol level tests, its procedure, and many more. Enough of the introduction! Let’s get into the details of the blog right now.
What is cortisol?
The adrenal glands produce the cortisol hormone. What do you do whenever you watch something exciting or experience a shocking scenario? You react. What is the result of this reaction? Your body releases adrenocorticotropic hormones in your brain. This ACTH hormone triggers the adrenal glands and sends messages to the brain to release adrenaline and cortisol.
The primary hormone that is responsible for your stress is this cortisol. So, whenever your body experiences a threat or reacts to an external stimulus, cortisol production increases. The enhanced cortisol hormone makes you experience a lot of energy and vigor all at the same time. Due to an increase in the cortisol level, you might experience:
- Dry mouth
- Rapid heart rate
- Stomach upset
This is how extreme production of cortisol can impact your health negatively:
- It suppresses your normal growth system.
- It changes the response to your immune system.
- It represses your digestive and reproductive systems.
Importance of performing the stress level test
You must be wondering why you need to perform the stress level test. First and foremost, people hardly pay attention to mental health. Having too much stress is sure to disrupt your mental wellness. So, the primary purpose of this stress level test or cortisol level test is to check the amount of cortisol produced daily. Sometimes, some health conditions can bring a change in the production of cortisol.
Through this cortisol test, the doctors can identify if you are suffering from any potential diseases like Cushing disease or Addison’s disease. To be more precise, the stress level test assesses the way the pituitary gland and the adrenal function. How does cortisol help in the proper functioning of your body? The vital roles played by the cortisol hormone are the following:
- Maintains immunity system
- Takes care of the nervous system, skeletal system, and circulatory system
- Acts in stress response
- Helps to breakdown fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
How to perform the stress level test?
The performance of a stress level test is very similar to that of any other form of blood test. Like a blood test, here the lab technician collects your blood sample first and then puts it to test. For the collection of the blood sample, this is the general process followed:
Step 1: First, the lab technician ties an elastic band around the upper arm tightly. The purpose of this is to make the vein protrude out a bit for easy needle insertion.
Step 2: In the second step, the lab technician uses a little amount of alcohol or spirit to clean the area or skin where he will insert the needle for sample collection.
Step 3: Next the lab technician gently inserts the needle in your vein. While the lab technician is injecting the needle, you have to bear a little pain and tingling sensation. However, this is temporary and bearable.
Step 4: Soon you will see the tube attached to the needle getting filled with your blood gradually. Sometimes, the lab technician may use more than one tube for proper sample collection.
Step 5: Now, the lab technician will remove the elastic band from your arm and put a cotton gauze or band air on the needle insertion site.
Step 6: Finally, the lab technician asks you to apply some pressure on the needle insertion site to avoid bleeding.
How to prepare for the cortisol level test?
Throughout the day, your cortisol levels can vary. However, it is at its highest level in the mornings. This is the reason doctors ask you to undergo this test in the morning to get the extreme value. To conduct a cortisol test, you do not have to keep a fast.
If you consume some medication, make sure to convey it to the doctor. This is because some drugs can affect the cortisol levels. Your medical history, precisely the kind of medications you take daily will help the doctor understand your current health condition. You should not take any medications until the lab technician collects your blood sample. Some of the common cases where cortisol level is on the rise include:
- Consuming drugs filled with estrogen
- During pregnancy
- Consuming synthetic glucocorticoids
Interpreting the results of cortisol level test
The normal level at which you should have your cortisol levels range between 6 to 23 mg/dL. What happens when your cortisol level is more than the normal range? It is a clear indication of the development of a tumor in the pituitary gland. Abnormal levels of cortisol also mean having a tumor in the adrenal gland or some other body parts.
What happens if the situation is totally the opposite? What can you experience when your cortisol level is below the normal range? It can hint at the presence of either Addison’s disease or hypopituitarism. In both cases, early detection is mandatory to stay away from risks.
Nowadays, doctors put a lot of focus on stress management. You can engage in various physical activities to keep stress levels in control. To find out the real cause behind your stress, reach out to a reputed nearest walk in clinic to undergo a stress level test. Make sure to get accurate test results as this will determine the plan of treatment.