Hormonal Imbalance Test Types
Fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, irritability, hair loss, dry skin — are you experiencing these symptoms of a hormonal imbalance? If so, it may be time to speak with your primary care provider about scheduling a hormonal imbalance test.
Hormones are chemicals that act as the body’s messengers by signaling to various tissues and organs that it is time to take a certain action. For example, melatonin is a hormone that the brain produces in response to darkness, telling your body that it’s time to go to sleep.
A hormonal imbalance occurs when the incorrect amount of a hormone — either too much or too little—is produced by the body. It’s natural to experience occasional hormonal imbalances, such as during pregnancy or menopause. However, hormonal imbalances can also result from an underlying disease of the endocrine system, known as an endocrine disorder.
The best way to narrow down the cause of your symptoms and to diagnose or rule out a particular endocrine disorder is through hormonal imbalance testing. Below, learn about some of the most common endocrine disorders and recommended hormonal imbalance tests.
Types of Endocrine Disorders & Hormonal Imbalance Tests
There are many different types of endocrine disorders. Some are genetic, while others are caused by injury or infection of one of the endocrine glands. Certain endocrine disorders are the result of tumors or lesions developing in the endocrine system.
Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, PCOS, Cushing’s syndrome, and Addison’s disease are among the most common endocrine disorders in the United States. Learn more about lab testing options for each of these disorders below.
More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, making it the most common endocrine disorder in the United States. A simple blood test called the A1C test is used to diagnose prediabetes, type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. Fasting is not required, and results are usually available within 1-3 days. Diabetes can also be diagnosed with a fasting blood sugar test, which requires fasting for 8-12 hours before the test.
Hyperthyroidism / Hypothyroidism
The thyroid is a gland that is responsible for secreting three hormones: triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and calcitonin. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is a condition in which the thyroid produces too many hormones, causing the body’s metabolism to speed up. Graves’ disease is one of the most common causes of hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which the thyroid produces too few hormones, causing the metabolism to slow down. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
The only way to confirm a diagnosis of either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism is through hormonal imbalance testing. The thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test is a blood test that measures the levels of these hormones in the blood. Fasting is not required, but you may be required to stop taking some medications. Results are usually available within 1-3 days.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormonal disorder in which the ovaries produce higher than normal amounts of male hormones, called androgens. This overproduction of androgens interferes with the development and release of eggs, leading to symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, acne, and infertility. PCOS affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.
Blood tests can check for elevated androgen levels in the blood, and are usually the first step in diagnosing PCOS. Additionally, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) may be low in patients with PCOS, and luteinizing hormone (LH) may be elevated. Fasting might be required for these tests, but not always.
Cushing’s syndrome is a condition that occurs when the body produces too much cortisol over an extended period of time. The most common cause of Cushing’s is the long-term use of high doses of corticosteroid medications. It can also result from high levels of stress caused by panic disorders, depression, injury, illness or other ongoing causes.
Individuals with Cushing’s syndrome usually experience weight gain, especially in the midsection, upper back, and face. Acne, mood swings, and slow-healing wounds are other common symptoms. A cortisol urine test is one of the main lab tests used to diagnose Cushing’s. A saliva sample collected late at night may be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Adrenal Insufficiency / Addison’s Disease
Adrenal insufficiency occurs when the adrenal glands don’t produce enough of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone. Addison’s disease is a type of adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness, weight loss, nausea, low blood pressure, and irritability.
Hormonal imbalance testing is one of the main methods of diagnosing adrenal insufficiency. The ACTH stimulation test measures the level of cortisol in your blood before and 30-60 minutes after an injection of synthetic ACTH. Patients with adrenal insufficiency will experience little to no increase in cortisol levels after the injection. Follow-up testing is usually required in order to confirm the diagnosis.
Schedule a Hormonal Imbalance Test
Do you have a hormonal imbalance test kit that requires a blood draw from a skilled phlebotomist? Schedule an appointment to have your blood sample collected and processed through the MOMS patient portal.
*Post reviewed and approved by Dr. Sona Kirpekar, our in-house Medical Consultant.