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Cortisol is a hormone with various functions throughout the body. However, if a person’s body cannot regulate their cortisol levels, it could lead to a serious health condition. In these cases, home cortisol tests may be useful to indicate when someone might need medical attention.
This article discusses:
- what cortisol is
- what a home cortisol test is
- why a person might buy a home cortisol test
- some home cortisol tests to purchase online
- when to see a doctor
Cortisol is the stress hormone that
- nervous system
- immune system
- cardiovascular system
- respiratory system
- reproductive system
- musculoskeletal system
- integumentary system
- reducing inflammation
- regulating metabolism
- assisting with memory formation
- controlling blood pressure
- developing the fetus during pregnancy
- maintaining salt and water balance in the body
- controlling blood sugar levels
All these functions make cortisol a vital part of maintaining overall health. If the body can no longer regulate cortisol levels, it can lead to several health disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome and Addison’s disease. Without treatment, these conditions could cause life threatening complications.
The body requires certain cortisol levels during times of stress, such as:
- in the event of an injury
- during illness
- during a surgical procedure
A cortisol test
There are several home cortisol tests available to purchase over the counter or online. These allow a person to take a sample of blood, urine, or saliva before sending it off for analysis.
After taking a home cortisol test, people can usually receive their results within 2–5 days online or via a telephone call with a healthcare professional.
However, there are currently no studies investigating the reliability of these home cortisol tests. Therefore, people should follow up on their test results with a healthcare professional.
A person should take a home cortisol test if they feel they may have a cortisol imbalance.
If cortisol levels are too high, a person may notice the following:
- rapid weight gain in the face, chest, and abdomen
- high blood pressure
- bruises and purple stretch marks
- mood swings
- muscle weakness
- an increase in thirst and need to urinate
If cortisol levels are too low, a person may experience the following symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- unintentional weight loss
- muscle weakness
- abdominal pain
Additionally, low cortisol levels may lead to:
A test can help individuals check their cortisol levels. If the test results show these levels are too high or too low, people should seek medical advice.
A cortisol imbalance may be a sign of an underlying condition, which can lead to serious complications without treatment.
If a person cannot carry out a home cortisol test, they should speak to a medical professional who can arrange a cortisol test at a healthcare facility.
At a clinic or hospital setting, a medical professional will
Home cortisol tests involve a person taking a sample of 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 making an appointment with a doctor to take a sample.
People may consider several factors when deciding to purchase a home cortisol test, including:
- Sample type: Some tests require a blood sample, while others need a sample of urine or saliva. With this in mind, a person may wish to buy a product that uses a testing method they are comfortable providing.
- Test analysis: A person may wish to purchase a product from a company that sends tests to
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certifiedlabs for analysis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate these labs to help ensure safety and accuracy.
- Accuracy: Individuals may wish to speak to a pharmacist or other healthcare professional before purchasing to ensure the test is reliable and accurate.
Several online retailers offer home cortisol tests. It is important to follow all test instructions to ensure a valid result.
Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.
This cortisol test uses the finger prick method to draw blood for the sample.
Here are the steps to take and send off a blood sample:
- Individuals fill in their details on the collection box and activate their testing kit online at the LetsGetChecked website.
- People need to wash their hands with warm soapy water before using an alcohol swab to clean the finger that they will prick.
- Once the finger is completely dry, individuals pierce the skin using the lancet in the test kit. A person must wipe away the first drop of blood before squeezing some into the blood collection tube.
- After closing the tube, individuals must invert it 5–10 times before placing it in the included biohazard bag, which they then place in the box.
After following these steps, people can send the sample back to LetsGetChecked using the kit’s prepaid envelope. Test results usually come back within 2–5 days.
LetsGetChecked tests samples in the same labs that primary care providers, hospitals, and government schemes use. These labs are CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited.
The company also has a team of nurses and doctors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to offer ongoing support. These healthcare professionals are on hand to discuss a person’s results with them over the phone.
This Everlywell product uses a urine sample to test a person’s cortisol levels.
The test measures the levels of three hormones in a person’s body: cortisol, cortisone, and melatonin. It also measures a person’s creatinine levels.
There are three steps with this test:
- Individuals register their testing kit on Everlywell’s website.
- A person follows the instructions carefully to take their urine sample.
- Once they have their urine sample, they place it in the prepaid package and send it off to Everlywell’s labs.
Within a few days, individuals will receive their results digitally via the Everlywell website. Medical professionals can also offer helpful insights via their secure platform.
As well as sending a personalized report of each marker, Everlywell also sends detailed information about what the results mean.
The labs where Everlywell tests samples all carry certification with CLIA. The company also ensures that all results are reviewed and certified by independent board-certified physicians within the person’s specific state.
Healthlabs offers a cortisol test that tests a person’s cortisol levels twice — once in the morning and once in the evening.
The company says they do this because a person’s cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day. Therefore, by testing twice, they can gather information on this fluctuation.
This test uses a blood sample, which a person takes once in the morning and once in the afternoon. They must follow the instructions clearly to ensure they take suitable samples.
The manufacturer says that people should collect a morning sample between 7–9 a.m. and an evening sample between 3–5 p.m.
They then need to send off their sample for analysis. After testing is complete at a CLIA-certified lab, a person will receive their results, which usually takes between 1–2 days.
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.
Cortisol is an important hormone that affects almost all parts of the body. It has many functions, including reducing inflammation, regulating metabolism, and controlling blood pressure.
If a person believes they have high or low cortisol levels, they may wish to take a cortisol test. Usually, these tests take place at a medical practice. However, several home cortisol tests are available to purchase.
A person can take these tests at home by providing a urine, blood, or saliva sample. Once a lab analyzes the test, people usually receive their results within a few days. Individuals should follow up any test results with a healthcare professional.