September 07, 2023
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Also known as the “stress hormone”, it plays a key role in the regulation of metabolism, the immune system, and other vital body processes. Dr. Fernando Quinto, endocrinologist at the Lima Sur Plaza Medical Center of Clinica Ricardo Palma, explains that cortisol is very important for the body because it is produced to cope with moments of physical or mental stress, which are perceived by the brain as a threat, or situations of real danger in which one must run or fight.
How does cortisol work?
This hormone adapts our body to respond to stress: distributing blood flow, increasing blood pressure, increasing blood glucose, increasing energy supply, and improving glucose utilization in the brain. However, once the risk has passed, cortisol levels drop and the body returns to normal.
What factors cause an excess of cortisol in the blood?
What complications does having elevated cortisol cause?
It can trigger increased blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, increased blood glucose (which can cause diabetes), increased fat in the face, neck, and abdominal region (arms and legs can be thin), dermatological problems, spontaneous bruising, osteoporosis in young patients, insomnia problems, etc.
How are cortisol levels measured?
Cortisol levels can be measured with blood, urine, and saliva tests. These tests should be interpreted by a specialized physician since their interpretation will depend on when and how the sample was taken, among other variables.
How to regulate cortisol levels?
In the case of patients who have a cortisol elevation disease of their own, the only way to regulate cortisol will be with specialized medications, seeking to manage the complications that can result from chronic corticosteroid use.
If the cause is stress, it will be important to manage it through relaxation techniques, practice moderate exercise, maintain an adequate sleep routine, and follow a balanced diet with healthy foods. It is recommended to seek professional help so that they can provide the appropriate tools to manage stress or depression situations.
Dr. Fernando Quinto
Endocrinologist at the Lima Sur Plaza Medical Center of Clinica Ricardo Palma