Wired? Tired? It Could be Cortisol Imbalance!
If you’re constantly just not feeling your best – but you can’t pinpoint a specific cause – you may be suffering from cortisol imbalance.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which are small, triangular organs at the top of the kidneys. The hormone cortisol has an effect on nearly every function of the human body – including mood, metabolism, blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, storage of fat deposits, and more.
Cortisol is also considered the body’s primary “stress hormone” because it impacts the areas of the brain that regulate mood, motivation, fear, and anxiety. It is the hormone responsible for human’s “fight or flight” response.
In this article, the hormone experts at Tutera Medical in Scottsdale, AZ explain the problem of cortisol imbalance and discuss what patients can do to keep cortisol levels in balance for optimal health.
When cortisol levels are out of balance, problems with physical, mental, and emotional health can occur and a man or woman’s quality of life can suffer. Unfortunately, many doctors simply don’t understand or take the time to incorporate cortisol evaluation into a patient’s examination. So, many times patients continue to suffer with poor health and disease.
The disruption of the adrenal glands’ ability to make cortisol in the right amounts at the right times is sometimes called “adrenal fatigue.” Chronic stress, an unhealthy diet, and general inflammation are just some of the factors believe to contribute adrenal fatigue.
The Cortisol Curve
In healthy individuals, cortisol levels should naturally fluctuate throughout the day. Cortisol levels should peak in the morning to prepare the body to take on the day – and then reach its lowest level at night so the body can slow down and rest. This bell-shaped daily increase and decline in cortisol levels is referred to as the “Cortisol Curve”.
There are essentially 3 stages or types of cortisol imbalance.
Stage 1: High Cortisol Levels (“Wired”)
High cortisol levels, especially at night, can lead to insomnia, insulin resistance, and abdominal weight gain. People with high cortisol levels often feel “wired” or edgy “wired” – while also feeling tired because they are unable to get quality sleep.
Stage 2: Low Cortisol Levels (“Tired”)
People with insufficient cortisol levels often wake up early in the morning (often around 3 a.m.) and are then unable to fall back asleep. During the day, usually in response to stress, they may even feel more awake and energized. But these cortisol levels peaks early and then flatten out suddenly – leaving them feeling exhausted and stressed for the rest of the day.
Stage 3: Flat Cortisol Levels (“Burnout”)
In some people, cortisol secretion does not fluctuate normally throughout the day. This absence of the normal cortisol highs and lows is referred to as a “flat cortisol curve”. This stage is usually characterized by feeling exhausted and “burned out” regardless of how much sleep the patient gets.
There are actually many causes of flat cortisol levels, however in many cases exposure to chronic stress is the culprit. Flat cortisol is also associated in some cases with low DHEA levels, low thyroid hormone levels, viral or bacterial infections, and/or tumors in the adrenal glands.
“Primary Adrenal Insufficiency” (Addison’s disease) is typically caused by autoimmune disorders, where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, and organs.
The Dangers of Flat Cortisol Curve
In clinical research, a flat cortisol curve has been shown to be directly associated with an increased risk of many serious diseases, including Type 2 Diabetes, metastatic breast cancer, early death from lung cancer, PTSD and more.
And in recent medical studies it was found that flat cortisol curve was correlated with a higher death rate from all causes, including heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
Treating Cortisol Imbalance
The first step in treating cortisol hormone imbalance is seeking out a physician who understands the causes and effects of hormone imbalance. At Tutera Medical in Scottsdale, AZ our providers can measure a patient’s cortisol level fluctuations over the course of a day to identify if their cortisol levels are sufficient and/or if their cortisol curve is flat.
Then a customized treatment plan – involving preventive treatments and lifestyle adjustments – can be implemented to get their hormone levels in balance and restore the energy and quality of life.
Lifestyle Changes for Treating Cortisol Imbalance
- Follow the adrenal diet – brightly colored vegetables, lean protein, and whole grain gluten-free carbs.
- Go to bed early – before 11 p.m. to avoid a second late-night cortisol surge that disrupts sleep.
- Supplement with B vitamins – including B12 and folate to support energy production.
- Supplements with anti-inflammatories – such as omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, and vitamin C.
- Replace necessary nutrients – Vitamin D, selenium, magnesium, and zinc are all important for thyroid and adrenal function.
- Build rest into your day – take timeouts to breathe and restore.
- Reduce stress – start to find value in a balanced life.
Cortisol Imbalance Treatment | Scottsdale, AZ
If you think you may be suffering from cortisol insufficiency, or another hormone imbalance, schedule an appointment at Tutera Medical in Scottsdale, Glendale or Chandler, AZ today.
We can assess your hormone levels, and help you take the steps to restore a normal cortisol curve – so you can live a long and healthy life with energy and vitality.
Cortisol Imbalance Treatment | Scottsdale, AZ: 480-874-1515