Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone, or in simple terms, a steroid hormone. In simple words, cortisol is the body’s stress hormone. Hearing stress hormones, you must think about the adrenal glands. Cortisol secretes from the adrenal glands. Therefore, the hormone plays a crucial role in controlling the body’s emotional status.
There’s no doubt that the presence of cortisol is beneficial to the body. However, high cortisol symptoms are not that beneficial. Before getting to that, here are several beneficial things that cortisol does –
- Cortisol handles how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
- It helps suppress inflammation sensation in the body.
- It regulates blood pressure and increases blood sugar levels.
- Cortisol controls the body’s sleep/wake cycle.
- It also boosts energy levels to help the body handle stress effectively.
How Does Cortisol Work in the Body?
The hypothalamus and pituitary gland can sense if the blood contains the right amount of cortisol. If the levels are low, the brain adjusts them accordingly. Besides the brain, the adrenal glands pick up the signals.
Next, the cortisol receptors receive the hormone and use it in multiple ways. For instance, if the body is on high alert, cortisol can prevent or shut down functions midway. The functions might include the body’s digestive, reproductive, immune, and growth systems.
High Cortisol Levels: What Actually Happens?
An increase in the body’s cortisol levels can mean several things. Usually, high cortisol levels can be referred to as ‘Cushing syndrome.’ It happens either when the body produces too much cortisol or when you have taken high doses of corticosteroids.
High cortisol levels can trigger some symptoms in the body. These, however, can differ depending on the actual cause that’s causing the increase in cortisol in your body. So, here are the symptoms –
- Signs of weight gain, especially around the upper back and midsection areas
- Signs of rounding of the face, primarily because of weight gain
- Acne problems
- Thinning of the skin
- Having a flushed face
- Getting easily bruised
- Healing capabilities reduce
- Signs of muscle weakness
- Severe fatigue and tiredness
- Signs of irritation
- Having frequent headaches
- Facing difficulty in concentrating
- Frequently having high blood pressure
Does High Cortisol Result in Sleep Disorders?
People often ask whether high cortisol levels result in sleep disorders or is it just the reverse. The answer to that is complex, and scientists are in pursuit of concluding.
Some research suggests that heightened HPA-axis activity results in sleep deprivation symptoms. A 2014-research states that sleep deprivation has a significant connection to extreme cortisol response in the presence of stress. This hints at high-cortisol levels being a direct contributor to disrupting sleep.
Therefore, you must connect with medical professionals to bring them down if you have high cortisol levels.
As much as cortisol is vital to the body, high cortisol symptoms should always be treated medically. Like what you read in the article, it brings in a lot of ailments and negative impacts on the body. Although high cortisol levels happen from time to time in the body, prolonged high levels can be harmful.