How your system responds to stress

 

Stress stimulates the immune system. In the short term, that’s a bonus. It helps you stave off infection and heal wounds. Over time, cortisol compromises your immune system, inhibiting histamine secretion and inflammatory response to foreign invaders. People under chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses like influenza and the common cold. It increases risk of other opportunistic diseases and infections. It can also increase the time it takes to recover from illness or injury.

Under stress, your liver produces extra blood sugar (glucose) to give you a boost of energy. Unused blood sugar is reabsorbed by the body. If you’re under chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with this extra glucose surge, and you may be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Stress is exhausting for the body and for the mind. It’s not unusual to lose your desire for sex when you’re under chronic stress. However, men may produce more of the male hormone testosterone during stress, which may increase sexual arousal in the short term.

For women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle. You might have irregular or no menstruation, or heavier and more painful periods. The physical symptoms of menopause may be magnified under chronic stress.

If stress continues for a long time, a man’s testosterone levels begin to drop. That can interfere with sperm production and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress may make the urethra, prostate, and testes more prone to infection.

The Adrenal Stress Profile monitors the impact chronic stress has on the body. Chronic stress changes hormone balance and immune function and causes inflammation which contributes to acute symptoms as well as chronic diseases.

This profile provides insight into how you are handling and responding to stress. Evaluating adrenal hormone balance can provide guidance for prevention and treatment of chronic disease.

Associated conditions of chronic stress

 

Prolonged stress responses can progress into dysfunctional hormonal patterns. Chronic stress can disrupt metabolism and ultimately contribute to neurological conditions, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal symptoms, skin issues, and other complications. Signs or symptoms of prolonged stress or chronic metabolic dysfunction are indicators for adrenal testing.

  • Neurological conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, mood disorders, depression, anxiety, memory loss, male sexual dysfunction 

  • Metabolic disorders such as menstrual irregularities, obesity, thyroid diseases 

  • Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart diseases 

  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux 

  • Skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, saggy skin 

  • Inflammatory and Immune dysfunctionsuch as decreased immune function, autoimmune disease, inflammatory disorders 

Benefits of testing

 

Since stress and inflammation are major underlying factors in many chronic diseases, checking levels of both cortisol and DHEA can be a window into how well the body is managing this critical factor of chronic illness.

Both cortisol and DHEA, produced by the adrenal glands, affect carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism, as well as thyroid hormone and sex hormone function:

Cortisol

  • An anti-inflammatory hormone; production is controlled through negative feedback regulation and circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle).

  • Maximum cortisol levels normally occur between 5 and 8 am after which levels basically decline with lowest levels occurring between 12 am and 4 am. 

  • Suppresses immunity 

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)

  • Reduces inflammation, supports metabolism, cardiovascular health, nervous system health, etc. 

  • Serves as the precursor in the formation of male and female sex hormones (testosterone, estrone, estradiol).

  • Supports immunity 

Panel components

The adrenal stress profile includes six saliva collection vials. While only five collections are required, an optional sixth collection is recommended for deeper insights into your hormone function. There are five to six cortisol collections and one DHEA-S collection.

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