You experience backaches and headaches.
When your cortisol levels are high over a long period of time, your adrenal glands start to get depleted. This raises prolactin levels, increasing the body’s sensitivity to pain, such as backaches and muscle aches. Excessive cortisol also hypersensitizes the brain to pain, such that even the slightest twinge can excite the nerves of the brain, causing headaches.
You’re not sleeping well.
Cortisol levels are supposed to drop at nighttime, allowing your body to relax and recharge. But if your cortisol levels are too high, you might notice that, even if you’ve been tired all day, you get a second wind right around bedtime. Then you toss and turn all night—and feel tired again the next day.
Even when you sleep well, you’re still tired.
Over time, high levels of cortisol deplete the adrenal glands and predispose you to chronic fatigue. So if you feel like you just can’t get up and go anymore, you’re probably stressed.
You’re gaining weight.
You’re gaining weight, especially around your abdomen, even when you eat well and exercise.
Cortisol tends to make you thick around the middle, even when you’re doing everything “right.”
You catch colds and other infections easily.
Cortisol inhibits your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms, which means that your immune system, which is designed to keep you healthy, becomes weakened, leaving you vulnerable to every bacteria, virus and fungus that you encounter.
You crave unhealthy foods.
Cortisol raises your blood sugar, putting you at risk of diabetes. High glucose levels then bump up your insulin levels, which then drop your blood sugar, and all of a sudden you’re struck with wild cravings for SUGAR.
Your sex drive is in the crapper.
When stress hormones are high, libido-inducing hormones like testosterone drop and voila… nothing.
Your gut acts up.
Your gastrointestinal system is very sensitive to stress hormones like cortisol. You might experience nausea, heartburn, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or constipation as a result of too many stress hormones.
You feel anxious.
Cortisol and epinephrine can lead to jitters, a nervous stomach, feelings of panic, even paranoia.
You feel blue.
High levels of cortisol suppress production of serotonin, and next thing you know, you’re awash in doom and gloom.
If you suffer from 1 or more of these symptoms, then it would be a good idea to have your cortisol hormone tested. The best and most accurate test for cortisol hormone is a 24 hour urine test referred to as the Dutch test because it will be able to track your cortisol rhythm as well as metabolites for cortisol breakdown. Otherwise, you may also have your PCP order a 24 hour saliva test, which also is a good indicator of your cortisol rhythm. The least accurate test would be a simple blood test because it only gives you a snapshot in time of your cortisol output.
If you need help with your cortisol and want to know of ways to naturally heal your adrenals and get your cortisol hormone back into balance, contact Dr. Patrick Ess at Stanly Wellness Center at 980-355-7600.