Adrenal Stress Testing

Stress has become a common thread in today’s society.  Over the last several decades people have been increasingly put under more and more stress, impacting our health and can lead to chronic diseases. During prolonged stress, all body functions become compromised, leading to endocrine, immune and metabolic depletion. Over time our normal stress responses becomes maladaptive and can be separated into four different stress syndromes or “maladaptive stress syndromes” and are separated into four types.

  1. Type 0 is a normal physiologic reaction to stressful events and is regarded a well-adapted system in which the autonomic nervous system is balanced between relaxation and vigilance.
  2. Type 1 is characterized by excess release of adrenaline and cortisol, and is generally short in duration.
  3. Type 2 is characterized by excess chronic production of cortisol and adrenaline.
  4. Type 3 is characterized by a chronic decrease in cortisol and sporadic releases of adrenaline, leading to dysfunction between the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands.

Those with inadequate levels of cortisol generally fall into type 3 category and may experience any of the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness or irritability
  • PMS
  • Craving for salt or sweets
  • Depression
  • Allergies
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Confusion
  • Poor memory
  • GI problems
  • Lightheadedness
  • Insomnia

Evaluation of adrenal function involves testing for not only cortisol levels, but also sex hormones, electrolytes and epinephrine. It is important to assess the function of the adrenal glands as well as the other systems which are intimately involved and dependent on each other for proper functioning. This method of testing ensures a precise understanding of a unique clinical picture and therefore proper treatment.