What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress. It plays a variety of roles in the body, including regulating metabolism, immune function, and blood pressure.
How does the body produce cortisol?
Cortisol production is regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a complex system that involves the interaction of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland. When the body perceives a stressor, the hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH then activates the adrenal gland to produce and release cortisol.
What are the effects of cortisol on the body?
Cortisol has a variety of effects on the body. It can increase blood sugar levels, suppress the immune system, and affect the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It can also affect the function of the cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal system, and the nervous system.
Can cortisol levels be measured in the body?
Yes, cortisol levels can be measured in the body through a blood or saliva test.
What is the normal range for cortisol levels in the body?
The normal range for cortisol levels varies depending on the time of day and the method of measurement. In general, cortisol levels are highest in the morning and lowest at night. In a blood test, the normal range for cortisol is typically between 6 and 8 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) in the morning and between 3 and 5 mcg/dL in the evening. In a saliva test, the normal range is typically between 0.5 and 5 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).
What can cause abnormal cortisol levels in the body?
Abnormal cortisol levels can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, illness, certain medications, and certain medical conditions. For example, conditions that affect the HPA axis, such as Cushing's syndrome and Addison's disease, can cause abnormal cortisol levels.
How is an abnormal cortisol level treated?
The treatment for abnormal cortisol levels depends on the underlying cause. For example, if the abnormal cortisol level is caused by a medical condition, such as Cushing's syndrome or Addison's disease, the treatment may involve medication or surgery to correct the underlying problem. If the abnormal cortisol level is caused by stress or another temporary factor, the treatment may involve stress management techniques, such as relaxation techniques or therapy.
"Cortisol." MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 20 Apr. 2021, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002343.htm.
"Cortisol: The 'Stress Hormone'." Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Mar. 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/cortisol/art-20046022.
"Cortisol." Healthline, Healthline Media, 23 Mar. 2021, www.healthline.com/health/cortisol.