Ways to Measure Your Adrenal Stress Response

We have been discussing the adrenal stress response in our previous posts.  There are a number of ways to measure and assess the impact stress is having on your health.  There are a couple of easy things that you can even try at home.

Positional Blood Pressure Changes

Do you ever feel dizzy or lightheaded when standing up from a lying position?  This could be an indicator of adrenal dysfunction.  Your body is designed to elevate your blood pressure from 6-10 points when you stand up.  Simple reason?  To ensure your brain has enough oxygen.  If your blood pressure drops when you stand you get lightheaded, or you may actually pass out.  Another sign of an abnormality is a heart rate that accelerates beyond 10 points from lying to standing.

How to Measure:

  1. You can use an automatic blood pressure cuff system and have someone help you.
  2. Lie on your back for five minutes.  Apply the proper size cuff on your arm as indicated.
  3. Start the machine and lie still and quiet while the blood pressure is being measured.  Have your friend record the data.
  4. Stand up and have your helper start the machine again immediately upon standing.  Stand still and quiet and let the pressure be measured.  Have your friend record the data.
  5. Look at your systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) to ensure that they went up slightly when standing of only about 6-10 points.
  6. Look at your heart rate and ensure that it went up only about 6-10 points and no greater.

Pupil Light Response

With low adrenal function your pupil will not be able to normally hold a contraction when light is shone into it.  A short time to fatigue can indicate brain imbalance or adrenal dysfunction.

How to Measure:

  1. The only equipment you need is a small light, a mirror, a stopwatch and a dark room.
  2. Darken the room and stand in front of a mirror.
  3. Shine a light across one eye from the side of your head.  Do not shine directly into it.
  4. Keep the light shining steadily across one eye and watch in the mirror with the other.
  5. You should see your pupil (the dark circle in the center of the eye) contract immediately as the light hits your eye.
  6. Your pupil should stay constricted for some time.  Fast failure of the response suggests adrenal dysfunction.

Saliva pH Lemon Juice Challenge

This is a simple test that we do in our office that measures your baseline saliva pH, provides you with an acidic challenge of lemon juice and then monitors your pH changes each minute for five minutes.  Your baseline measurement, the pH right after the lemon juice consumption, and the one minute measurement are very important for identifying the overall activity of the sympathetic nervous system.

Urinary Chlorides & Urinary Electrolytes & Urine Chemstrip

These tests are a part of the functional diagnostic tests we use in our office called the Integra Profile.  These measurements can give insight into the function of the adrenal stress response in your body.  Simply providing a first morning urine sample allows us to measure these values and track the changes after implementing appropriate treatment interventions.

Adrenal Stress Index

One of the most effective ways to measure your adrenal stress response is to actually measure your stress hormones…cortisol and DHEA.  The Adrenal Stress Index measures your cortisol at 8AM, noon, 4PM and midnight to track your daily rhythms.  Cortisol that is too high or too low is a sign of dysfunction and you can experience the symptoms of an abnormal stress response.  The test is simple, easy to collect since it uses saliva and can be done at home, and is a great clinical tool that we use quite often to guide our treatment process.

If you try some of the home tests and they are abnormal then have a more comprehensive examination performed.

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