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Benefits of using saliva to diagnose hormone imbalances

Hormone testing is an important diagnostic tool, but there are limitations to using blood for such tests. In this article, Dr Dajana Domik looks at the benefits of saliva diagnostics and the automation technologies that can streamline analysis workflows, as well as sharing the details of a testing facility success story.

A proper hormone balance is key to maintaining good health, and changes to this delicate equilibrium may be an indicator of disease or elevated stress levels, making hormone testing an important diagnostic tool. However, traditional serum-based methods are poor indicators of the concentration of biologically active hormones in the body, since the results are skewed by the large proportion of bound hormones present in blood. Analysis of saliva samples, on the other hand, can offer a more precise measurement of free hormone levels, and it is quickly becoming the go-to method for hormone analysis.

Hormones 

Hormones are often referred to as ‘chemical messengers’ due to the important communication role they play in the endocrine system. Testosterone, oestrogen, adrenaline and growth hormone – among many others – regulate a range of physiological processes including metabolism, reproduction, stress response and homeostasis. Although hormone levels naturally fluctuate to a certain degree – daily, monthly and throughout a patient’s lifetime – internal and external factors can cause their concentrations to become abnormal. Everything from an unhealthy diet and prescribed medication to diabetes and pituitary tumours can result in too little or too much of a hormone being released into the blood, wreaking havoc on some of the body’s most important processes. Excessive cortisol secretion by the adrenal glands, for example, can cause Cushing’s syndrome, symptoms of which include weight gain, severe depression and diabetes.1 An imbalance of sex hormones in females, on the other hand, can lead to brittle bones, irregular menstrual cycles and even infertility.2 Clearly, it is crucial to be able to accurately and promptly diagnose these imbalances before any harmful side effects can take hold.  

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