Like thousands of other Americans have you asked the question what is a DHEA test when your doctor mentions of ordering this blood test for you. What does DHEA even stand for? Dehydroepiandrosterone is what DHEA stands for. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is an endogenous hormone that is made in the human body and secreted by the adrenal gland. There is a large demographic that monitors their DHEA test levels for many different health reasons. The DHEA test could be used to monitor the aging process, inflammatory diseases, hormone status and various other conditions. To answer what is a DHEA test we need to look at why get a DHEA test and what exactly is DHEA.
SO what is a DHEA test and why get tested? Let’s begin with what is DHEA. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone produced by the body’s adrenal glands. The body uses DHEA to make androgens and estrogens which are the male and female sex hormones. DHEA test levels peak around the age of 25 and go decrease progressively as one get’s older. Adults that are 70, for example, tend to have DHEA levels about 80% lower than young adults. DHEA levels in the body begin to decrease after age 30, and are reported to be low in some people with anorexia, end-stage kidney disease, type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes), AIDS, adrenal insufficiency, and in the critically ill. DHEA levels may also be depleted by a number of drugs, including insulin, corticosteroids, opiates, and danazol.
Because levels of the DHEA blood test decline with age, researchers have wondered if DHEA could work as an anti-aging treatment. In older people, lower than normal levels of DHEA have been associated with osteoporosis, heart disease, memory loss, and breast cancer. But there is no proof that low levels of DHEA cause these conditions, or that taking DHEA can help prevent them. And DHEA supplements vary widely in quality. Many products tested do not have the amount of DHEA in them that the product represents.
We have not completely answered the question of what is a DHEA test until we discuss the supplements that can affect the DHEA blood test. Also, DHEA supplements can have some side effects. They have been known to lower your levels of HDL which is the “good” cholesterol in the body, and in women DHEA supplements may raise levels of testosterone as well as estrogen. The DHEA in supplements is a synthetic hormone, so you should talk to your doctor before taking it. This may be reason enough to get a DHEA test.
Can the DHEA test address other common conditions? Obesity may be the most common condition. Clinical studies using DHEA to treat overweight people have found conflicting results. Animal studies have found DHEA to help reduce body weight. But studies of men and women found that taking DHEA didn’t’ t change total body weight, although total body fat and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol did improve. So the jury is out on how the DHEA test can monitor treatment for other conditions.
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