What Is The Purpose Of The Cortisol Test
The cortisol test helps to diagnose any dysfunction of the adrenal glands or the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain. The cortisol levels are impacted in diseases like-
- Cushings disease -The cortisol levels are much higher than normal
- Addisons disease Also known as primary adrenal insufficiency. The cortisol levels are much lower than normal
- Tumors some tumors may cause higher cortisol levels. Tumors are any abnormal growths
Saliva Cortisol Test Collection Guidelines
A saliva cortisol test is done to measure the level of cortisol, a hormone in saliva. Cortisol is made by the adrenal gland, located on top of each kidney. Cortisol has many functions. It helps the body use sugar and fat for energy . It also helps the body manage stress. Many conditions can affect cortisol levels, such as physical or emotional stress, strenuous activity, infection or injury.
To do a saliva cortisol test, you will need a Salivette® collection device kit. Do not collect saliva in any other container.
Reasons To Avoid Salivary Cortisol Testing
Many patients find it frustrating to get treatment for conditions such as adrenal fatigue because they are not recognized by conventional physicians.
This means that when they go into their doctors office they may be refused proper testing.
This can leave patients frustrated and they may start looking for help from outside sources.
They are often relieved to find that they CAN test for cortisol via the salivary method, but they dont realize that there are other ways to assess cortisol as well.
Try to avoid this trap, because you can get helpful information from serum cortisol .
And while it is true that if you look hard enough for cortisol imbalances you will find them, whats more important is knowing the value that this information provides.
If you are able to get adequate treatment without this advanced testing, then doesnt it negate the effectiveness of the test itself?
And thats exactly one of the main problems with salivary cortisol testing .
The information from the test doesnt always change how you should look at your treatment or what you should treat with.
When it comes to adrenal fatigue and other adrenal-related disorders, you may be surprised to know that there are actually very few treatment options.
And, to complicate things further, the treatment for low cortisol is almost the exact same as the treatment for high cortisol.
With this in mind lets talk about the reasons you may want to avoid salivary testing and what you can do instead:
What do I mean?
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References & Salivary Cortisol Research
Why Is A Cortisol Test Done
The cortisol test is done to measure the levels of cortisol hormone. This test helps to diagnose the disorders in the adrenal glands and as a way to assess the functioning of the adrenal glands and the pituitary gland. The disorders in the adrenal glands include Cushings syndrome and Addisons disease .
Your physician will order a cortisol test if you experience the following symptoms that are caused by high and low cortisol levels.
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When Should I Get This Test
Your doctor may recommend cortisol testing if they think you have a condition affecting your cortisol levels.
Doctors may initiate cortisol testing if you have a health problem unusual for people your age, such as young adults with hypertension or osteoporosis. They may also recommend cortisol testing if you have a severe health condition affecting cortisol levels or if your doctor finds an adrenal tumor during imaging tests conducted for an unrelated concern.
Your doctor may recommend cortisol testing based on your symptoms, especially if you have more than one symptom of high cortisol that worsens with time. Symptoms of high cortisol include:
- Unexplained weight gain, particularly in children
- Fat accumulation around the base of the neck
- A hump-like pad of fat between the shoulders
- Slow growth in children
- Unexplained weight loss
Conditions that cause high and low cortisol levels are rare, and other diseases most often cause these symptoms. Thus, a doctor may test for more common conditions before initiating cortisol testing.
In addition to diagnostic testing, cortisol may be tested as a type of monitoring if you have been previously diagnosed with high cortisol and are taking medications to lower your cortisol levels.
What Happens During A Cortisol Test
A cortisol test often uses a sample of blood drawn at a lab. But the test may also be done on urine or saliva collected at home. Normally, cortisol levels vary during the day, so your provider may order more than one type of test to get more information about your cortisol levels.
For a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
Blood samples are usually taken twice during the day–once in the morning when cortisol levels are at their highest, and again around 4 p.m., when levels are much lower.
For a cortisol urine test, your provider may ask you to collect all your urine during a 24-hour period. This is called a “24-hour urine sample test.” For this test, you’ll be given a special container and instructions for how to collect and store your urine sample. Your provider will tell you what time to start. The test usually includes the following steps:
In certain cases, a urine test for cortisol may be done on one sample of urine collected in the morning.
A cortisol saliva test is usually done at home with a kit to collect a saliva sample. Your provider will tell you what time to collect your sample. It’s often done at night before you go to bed when cortisol levels are normally lower.
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Can I Take The Test At Home
There are commercially available at-home cortisol tests. These tests involve collecting blood, urine, or saliva samples and mailing them to a laboratory for analysis. Because cortisol levels change throughout the day, some tests require samples to be collected in the morning, while others use samples taken at several different times during the day.
At-home cortisol tests may also be called at-home stress and sleep panels and measure other substances affecting sleep and the bodys stress responses.
These at-home tests can provide a snapshot of cortisol levels, but they cannot replace physician-ordered tests. A doctors evaluation of your symptoms is very important when investigating potential problems with cortisol levels.
An at-home test kit is available through Testing.com without a doctors prescription as a part of a Men or Womens Health Panel.
Will I Need To Do Anything To Prepare For The Test
The preparations will depend on the type of test you are having. Be sure to follow all the instructions that your provider gives you.
Stress can raise your cortisol levels, so you may need to rest before your test. A blood test will require you to schedule two appointments at different times of the day. Before a saliva test, you may need to stop using certain medicines. Let your provider know about all medicines you use, including skin creams. But don’t stop using any medicines without talking with your provider first.
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How Often Should You Test Your Cortisol
Unless you have a diagnosis of either Cushing syndrome or Addison disease, you dont need to test your cortisol levels regularly.
A doctor will give you specific instructions on the type of test you should take, what time to take it, and how regularly you need to get tested.
They may recommend testing twice in 1 day or multiple times over several days since cortisol levels vary.
Understanding Of Lab Tests Results
Please visit the site associated with The American Association for Clinical Chemistry for better understanding of tests. There you will find the most detailed and full information regarding lab tests. In “common questions” tab you will find answers on the most common questions.
In addition, you can use a special form to ask the question. It is useful, if there is no answer on your question on the web site. A laboratory scientist will answer your question. It is a part of voluntary service provided by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.
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Is There Any Preparation Required Before The Test
There is no special preparation required for the cortisol blood test or saliva test. There is no constraint on the diet. But, your physician may ask you to stop certain medications that contain estrogen and androgen, and synthetic glucocorticoids such as prednisone, and phenytoin. Because these drugs and medications can influence the cortisol levels and result in an inaccurate diagnosis.
Are There Any Risks To Taking An At
At-home cortisol testing generally comes with few risks. If the test uses a blood sample, there is the possibility of bruising or bleeding. These tests are generally very accurate, but there is the chance that you may receive inaccurate results due to the sample collection process or shipping.
Remember, this type of testing isnt a substitute for a visit with your primary care doctor.
What Do The Results Mean
A cortisol test alone can’t diagnose the cause of abnormal cortisol levels. If your cortisol level isn’t normal, you will usually have more tests to find out what is causing the problem.
High levels of cortisol may be a sign that you have Cushing’s syndrome. It may be caused by:
- Taking high doses of certain steroid medicines for a long time to treat conditions, such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus
- Tumors in your pituitary gland or other parts of your body that make too much of the hormone that tells your adrenal glands to make cortisol
- Tumors in your adrenal glands that make extra cortisol
Low levels of cortisol may mean you have Addison disease or secondary adrenal insufficiency:
- Common causes of Addison’s disease include damage to the adrenal glands from conditions, such as:
- Certain infections, such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS
The most common cause of low cortisol levels is suddenly stopping steroid medicines after using them for a long time.
If your cortisol results aren’t normal, it doesn’t always mean you have a medical condition that needs treatment. Cortisol levels can be affected by:
- Certain medicines, such as birth control pills
To learn what your test results mean, talk with your health care provider.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
What Does The Test Result Mean
If the cortisol levels are higher than normal, it indicates the possibility of Cushings syndrome that might be caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland or adrenal gland or in the other part of the body that is involved in producing cortisol.
If the cortisol levels are lower than normal, it indicates the possibility of Addisons disease or hypopituitarism .
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Can I Measure Cortisol At Home
People can buy at-home cortisol tests online. These require a blood, urine, or saliva sample that a person collects at home, then sends to the companys labs.
The company returns the test results to the person after a few days or weeks.
However, no studies have investigated the accuracy of at-home cortisol tests. A person should contact a healthcare professional once they have received their results.
Best Cortisol Test For Am And Pm Testing: Rx Hometest Cortisol Am
- Sample type: This test requires two saliva samples.
- Results time: People receive their results in 5 business days.
- Pro: A person takes two samples throughout the day to allow for fluctuations.
- Con: People must remember to take the sample within the appropriate time window.
This Rx HomeTest Cortisol AM/PM Test requires a person to take two saliva samples: one 3060 minutes after waking in the morning, before eating breakfast or brushing teeth, and the other before bed.
The company states that collecting two samples can help provide insight into a persons 24-hour cortisol cycle.
Once a person collects the sample, they can ship it to the Rx HomeTest CLIA lab for free. The company claims it sends test results within 5 business days and that they are easy to understand.
This test may be best suited to people who to understand their 24-hour cortisol cycle, but do not want to take an invasive sample.
The RxHomeTest Cortisol AM/PM Test is available across the United States, except in the following states:
usually take a persons blood sample and analyze their cortisol levels. They may also provide a saliva test kit for analyzing a persons cortisol levels.
With home cortisol tests, a person takes a sample of their blood, urine, or saliva. There are currently no studies investigating the accuracy of these results.
However, home cortisol tests may be faster and more convenient than undergoing testing in a clinic or hospital setting.
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Toxicity Testing Heavy Metals
Heavy metals are called that for two reasons. First, they are physically very dense, and they are heavy on the periodic table of elements. These metals have no metabolic function in the body and the body has no method of removing them. They can build up in the fatty organs of the body including the liver, adrenals, thyroid, and brain. The most common heavy metals that cause health problems are mercury, lead, and cadmium.
There are different tests for heavy metals.
In-Office Urine Metal Screening
This is a screening test to determine whether there is a problem with heavy metals and whether there are low, medium, or high levels of heavy metals in the body. It is also used to measure the progress of a detox program to remove heavy metals from the body.
Hair analysis can be used to detect the presence of heavy metals but it is not the preferred method. Hair is exposed to our environment and so heavy metals can settle on the hair from the atmosphere, from swimming pools, and from other sources. Hair analysis is used most often for patients where urine collection is difficult.
Urine Metals Challenge Test
The patient is provided with a take-home test kit that contains full instructions on how to collect and store the samples.
What To Do Instead Of Salivary Cortisol Testing
What should your next steps be?
After reading this I dont want you to think that its unimportant for you to test your adrenals because that is not my intent.
Instead, I want you to consider a different approach to looking at your adrenal function.
One which focuses on using cost-effective strategies designed to help reduce the cost of your therapies while providing you with the best results.
Its entirely possible that you may need to check your salivary cortisol at some point because standard lab tests are not giving you helpful information.
This could happen.
But, this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
So what should you do instead?
- Step #1: Get your SERUM cortisol tested first and look at your results with the optimal ranges in mind. Serum cortisol will be covered by insurance and can help you determine if your cortisol is high or low.
- Step #2: If your cortisol is abnormal consider proceeding with treatment.
- Step #3: Address lifestyle factors . These changes should result in improvement and should not cost a significant amount of money.
- Step #4: Consider using high-quality adrenal supplements which contain either adrenal glandulars or adrenal adaptogens.
- Step #5: Recheck your serum cortisol after 2-3 months of therapy to see if any progress has been made.
- Step #6: If you still remain symptomatic, or if you feel that something is amiss in your body, consider getting either salivary or urinary cortisol testing.
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When To Speak With A Doctor
A person should undergo a cortisol test if they believe they may have high or low cortisol levels.
They can do this at home or speak with a medical professional who can carry out the test for them.
People may also wish to seek medical help if they show signs of too much or too little cortisol. This could indicate a potentially serious underlying health issue.
Below are answers to common questions about at-home cortisol tests.
Cortisol Saliva Elisa Assay Kit
The Cortisol Saliva ELISA Assay Kit is for Research Use Only
Size: 1×96 wellsControls Included
Specimen Collection and StorageApproximately 1 mL of saliva is required per duplicate determination. Collect 45 mL of saliva into a clean glass tube without force or inducement and before eating, drinking or brushing the teeth. Simply rinse the mouth with water before collection. Do not use blood-contaminated specimens. Store samples at 4°C for up to 24 hours or at -10°C or lower if the analyses are to be done at a later date. Consider all human specimens as possible biohazardous materials and take appropriate precautions when handling.
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