Researchers from Intermountain Healthcare have developed a smartphone-based test for measuring salivary cortisol, which can help care providers understand the patient’s stress levels. The test can be performed at the point of care in just five minutes.
When someone feels stress, their body’s natural response is to release hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, to help them deal with the “threat”. When cortisol is released, it increases glucose in the system, but also curbs nonessential functions including the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.
When people feel stress throughout the day, thus releasing too much cortisol, it can lead to anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and memory and concentration impairment.
To perform the test, care providers use a smartphone’s camera to take a picture using the flash. From there, the image analysis app can identify the user’s cortisol levels.
“When cortisol levels are overlooked too many people suffer and die because of excess or insufficient cortisol,” lead researcher and Intermountain Medical Center Director of Diabetes and Endocrinology Dr. Joel Ehrenkranz said in a statement.
Ehrenkranz also believes this test will be especially helpful for people with diabetes.