An at-home cortisol test can help people understand and manage their cortisol levels. Learn more about the best at-home cortisol tests from LetsGetChecked, myLAB Box, Verisana, and more, plus how to test cortisol levels at home.
In a clinic or hospital setting, a healthcare professional usually takes a person’s blood sample and analyzes their cortisol levels. They may also provide a saliva test kit for analyzing a person’s 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.
People may consider several factors when deciding to purchase a home cortisol test, including:
Sample type: Some tests require a blood sample, while others use urine or saliva. A person may wish to buy a product that uses a testing method they are comfortable with.
Test analysis: A person should purchase a product from a company that sends tests to CLIA certified labs as part of the testing process.
Accuracy: The FDA says at-home tests are cost-effective and quick to use, but it states they should not replace regular contact with a doctor. The FDA also states that all tests can give false results, and a person should follow instructions carefully and check expiration dates for the best chance of getting accurate results.
Price: Some cortisol tests can be expensive. A person can talk with a doctor to determine whether at-home cortisol tests will be useful for them before purchasing.
A person should not adjust medication based on at-home test results before speaking with a doctor.
The FDA does not approve every at-home test for use, and it recommends that a person check with a pharmacist or vendor to see if their chosen test is FDA approved. According to the FDA, unapproved tests have not been deemed safe or effective.
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 syndrome and Addison disease. Without treatment, these conditions could cause life threatening complications.
The body requires certain cortisol levels during times of stress, such as:
Stress can affect a person’s cortisol levels, so people should try to rest and remain calm before a test.
Fasting is not typically necessary for a cortisol test. However, healthcare professionals may ask people to stop taking certain medications, so it is important for people to tell a doctor about all the medications they are taking.
People should never stop taking medication unless a doctor asks them to.
High levels of cortisol may indicate Cushing’s syndrome or a tumor that is increasing cortisol levels.
It is important that people contact a healthcare professional when they receive the results of an at-home test. People should not try to interpret a test’s results without a healthcare professional’s aid.
Doctors can also recommend further testing or discuss treatment options if necessary.
Below are answers to common questions about at-home cortisol tests.
People can buy at-home cortisol tests online. These require a blood, urine, or saliva sample that a person collects at home and then sends to the company’s 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.
No studies have investigated the reliability and accuracy of at-home cortisol tests. Following up on all test results with a healthcare professional is important.
Contact a healthcare professional as soon as possible for advice if any of these symptoms are present.
People testing their cortisol levels at home will typically have to wait around 2–7 days for their test results, as a lab needs to analyze the samples.
There are no symptoms of high cortisol specific to females documented in scientific literature.
However, one 2020 study did suggest that stress may disrupt the menstrual cycle.
Other symptoms of high cortisol levels include rapid weight gain in the face, chest and abdomen; high blood pressure; mood swings; osteoporosis; bruises and purple stretch marks; mood swings; an increase in thirst and the need to urinate; and muscle weakness. However, these are not unique to females.
Test results should label cortisol in full. It is measured in micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).
Cortisol is an important hormone that affects almost all parts of the body. It has many functions, including reducing inflammation, regulating metabolism, and managing 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 at-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 on any test results with a healthcare professional.
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