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Getting a Gauge on Your Stress Levels

Let’s talk about the many faces of stress. Stress is being burned out at work, but feeling like you must persevere because of the pile of unpaid bills on the kitchen counter. Stress is making a family decision, knowing your in-laws will criticize it. It’s being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic while already 30 minutes late to an appointment. It’s realizing you have to figure out what you need to eat for dinner tonight and every night for the rest of your life. Many factors contribute to stress, so it’s best to stay aware of how your body is reacting to it.

For the last two years, our stress levels have heightened in the wake of the global pandemic. According to a new study from the American Psychological Association, 32 percent of Americans said they are so stressed about the pandemic that they struggle to make fundamental decisions such as what to wear or what to eat. It’s completely derailed many of our daily routines, making work and personal life infinitely harder to navigate. As our lives become more complicated, our bodies adjust, and not always in the healthiest way. 

We’ve all experienced it — whether an argument with your spouse or a work assignment that just isn’t going your way, our stress symptoms start as a response. Your heart starts racing, your muscles tighten, you get a stomachache. During a time like this, a hormone called cortisol (hydrocortisone) is going to work. Cortisol is released to help your body deal with stress, but it can be more harmful than helpful if your cortisol levels are too high or too low.

Cortisol is released by your adrenal glands, which are right above your kidneys. It also helps our bodies manage how we use carbohydrates, fats, proteins and controls our wake and sleep cycles. A study released one year after The World Health Organization announced the global pandemic states 67 percent of Americans reported unwanted changes in their sleep patterns. Cortisol suppresses what your body doesn’t need in a “fight-or-flight” situation. Essentially, it kicks in your instincts and is crucial to our survival. Of course, all things require balance, especially when it’s within your own body, so let’s look at what happens when your cortisol levels are unbalanced.

Too much cortisol can cause conditions like: 

  • Hyperglycemia
  • Obesity
  • Decreased bone density
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Damage to the heart

Too little cortisol can cause the opposite effect:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness

Any of those symptoms above would add undesired effects to your life. If you’re currently experiencing any of these issues, it’s time to find out what’s going on. According to a 2021 health study, since the pandemic began, nearly half of Americans, a whopping 47 percent, said they have delayed or canceled their healthcare services. 


A Simple Solution

Any Lab Test Now® is the best choice for a fast and safe health experience. We provide the doctor’s order so you can walk in without an appointment and choose from thousands of testing options.

 Our facilities offer affordable lab testing options to help both you and your doctors monitor your body’s response to stress. The Cortisol Lab Test is a blood test used to measure the level of cortisol in the blood. This test can provide an indication if your cortisol levels are too high or too low. Or try the Saliva Cortisol Test, which can determine your cortisol level via a saliva sample. 

New Year, Better You!

We’ve developed many unhealthy habits as COVID-19 has deterred us from being our best mentally and physically. However, you can make that change today. It’s time to focus on a new year and a better you! Take the first step towards better health in 2022 by testing your cortisol levels. Any Lab Test Now® has more than 200 locations available nationwide.

Click this link to find your nearest Any Lab Test Now and schedule an appointment.

 

Cortisol and Stress: How the Body Reacts

Cortisol has been termed as the “stress hormone” and it is usually increased under stressful responses when the body is experiencing a “fight or flight” response. Cortisol is a hormone that is released by the adrenal gland. The following functions are involved with normal levels of cortisol release; proper glucose metabolism, blood pressure regulation, immune function, and inflammatory response.

Normally, cortisol is higher in the morning and at its lowest at night. In our new modern day culture of sitting in the car during rush hour, lack of exercise and economic distress, the cortisol levels in our bodies are elevated for an extended period of time without having the chance to return to normal. This is known as chronic stress, which can contribute to blood sugar imbalance (hyperglycemia), decreased bone density, high blood pressure, metabolism imbalance and decreased immune system.

Having an increased cortisol level can be either physiologic or pathologic. Having a cortisol test done can measure your stress hormone levels throughout the day to see if you are having an abnormal spike of your cortisol at a certain time of the day, or a continuous increase of cortisol levels. Stress can be a contributor to a multitude of disease states. Cortisol level testing would be a great add on to any of our tests or panels offered through Any Lab Test Now.