Measuring hormone levels are essential for the diagnoses of certain ailments. It is difficult to rely on symptoms alone because some individuals have a high tolerance for hormonal imbalance (i.e., no symptoms might be seen despite varying hormone levels). Hormone level testing also enables you to closely monitor your hormones ensuring they all remain adequately balanced and within the optimal physiological range.
One of the most common tests done under this category is a cortisol blood test. A cortisol blood test is done to measure the level of the hormone cortisol in the blood. Cortisol has many functions. It helps the body use sugar and fat for energy. It also helps the body manage stress.
However, cortisol levels can be affected by many conditions, such as physical or emotional stress, strenuous activity, infection, or injury. But more than that, variations in cortisol level may signify problems related to the adrenal glands or pituitary gland.
The cortisol blood test is very useful in detecting Cushing Syndrome and Addison’s Disease. Cushing syndrome is a disorder that occurs when your body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol levels go up in reaction to the pituitary gland’s release of another hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH. Too much cortisol levels in the body may lead to the development of tumors in the pituitary glands.
On the other hand, Addison’s disease occurs when there is too little of cortisol in the body. The disease is also called adrenal insufficiency, or hypocortisolism. Failure to produce adequate levels of cortisol can occur for different reasons. The problem may be due to a disorder of the adrenal glands themselves (primary adrenal insufficiency) or to inadequate secretion of ACTH by the pituitary gland (secondary adrenal insufficiency). Low levels of cortisol may lead to weight loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure, and sometimes darkening of the skin in both exposed and non-exposed parts of the body.
Fortunately, Cushing Syndrome and Addison’s Disease can be treated. Early detection is important for the prevention and treatment of these two illnesses. As such, make sure to have your hormone levels check regularly.
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