Each year, about 5,000 people are diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome, a serious condition stemming from chronically elevated cortisol levels. And many more also suffer the lesser effects of high cortisol, often undiagnosed.
In this article, we look at cortisol and what happens when cortisol levels remain too high over time. The effects can be more than the nervous discomfort normally associated with stress and the condition is treatable so it’s worth looking for the signs and knowing when to contact a doctor.
1. What Is Cortisol
Cortisol is “the stress hormone”. If you use tea kettle with a steam whistle to alert you when the water is boiling, think of cortisol as a similar alarm or warning. As the stress hormone, cortisol works with your brain to adjust your fear level, your sense of urgency, and your overall mood. And when cortisol is too high, oversensitivity to normal stresses can create discomfort and further illness.
Cortisol is an organic (naturally occurring) steroid hormone that supports many of the body’s processes for thought, motivation, and action. On a cue from the brain, cortisol is released by the adrenal glands and then influences blood pressure, blood sugar, immune systems, inflammation, and insulin release.
You cannot live or function without cortisol – it’s crucial. But too much of a good thing can be bad.
2. How To Recognize High Cortisol
Since high cortisol so often goes undiagnosed, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of elevated cortisol, especially if you experience these symptoms often.
- Weight gain in the core and upper back
- Weight gain (“rounding”) in the face
- Acne and skin irritation
- Flushed face
- Easy bruising
- Thinning skin
- Muscle weakness
- Slowed healing
- Difficulty concentrating
- High blood pressure
- Sleep disorders
- Excess body hair
3. How To Lower Cortisol
Reducing your cortisol level is a function of reducing your stress. If you’re unable to remove stressful elements from your life, then double up on those practices that help you rise above the stresses, including:
- Breathing exercises are proven to calm chemistry, reduce heart rate, and relax muscles throughout the body.
- Meditation centers the mind on its own personal compass and puts the rest of the world into context and proportion from there. Try it.
- Walking is one of the most underrated practices. In addition to the gentle increase in metabolism, the scenery provides a distraction from daily nuisances and annoyances.
- Connect with family and friends and find someone you can talk to about anything. This comradery reminds you that you aren’t alone and others have shared your stresses before.
- Sleep better by focusing on creating and protecting a sleep routine with consistent bedtimes and rising times.
There is a lot to think about – we understand. If you have questions about how to lower cortisol or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
Opt Health is a telehealth platform that reconnects men with wellness, fitness, strength, and sexual vitality through scientific preventive medicine. From your own home, you can schedule with a physician, meet one-on-one via video conference, receive test results, and have medications delivered to your door.
For questions, inquiries, or appointments, don’t hesitate to contact us. Get personalized support and insight from top-tier physicians available 24/7.