Cortisol Dysfunction, Autoimmune Problems and CIDP

Cortisol dysfunction as a result of stress can lead to complications when it comes to autoimmune diseases like CIDP neuropathy

By Shiraz Abbas

Cortisol plays a critical role in arbitrating the inflammatory process in the body. When the inflammatory process is not properly managed by the body, it may lead to inflammatory autoimmune disorders like CIDP neuropathy.

Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. It is important as it regulates and moderates inflammatory reactions in your body. Cortisol is secreted for many reasons, including illness. It manages the amount of white blood cells that are allocated in one area in the body and makes sure that your inflammatory response does not damage tissue.

Stress has directly been linked to cortisol. Stress elevates cortisol in your body. Studies have shown that cortisol consolidates fear-based memories. In other words, it recollects your fears as a means to recall dangerous situations and ways out of them. The problem with this process is that it further exacerbates stress thereby raising cortisol levels in the body.

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When people are under chronic anxiety and stress, their bodies chronically release cortisol thereby desensitizing the body to it. This means that overtime, the release of cortisol becomes dysfunctional in the body thereby potentially opening the way to autoimmune disorders.

It is for this reason that doctors often prescribe corticosteroids like prednisone to suppress inflammation in the body as the naturally produced cortisol in the body is not enough.

So what does this all mean? It potentially suggests that chronic stress in life can lead to the dysfunctional management of cortisol in the body thereby potentially exacerbating or possibly even bringing about autoimmune diseases in the body like CIDP neuropathy. This is why clinical studies have stressed the importance of coping mechanisms to manage chronic stress. Among other examples, coping mechanisms include:

1) regular physical activity

2) mindfulness practices like meditation or prayer

3) building strong social connections and relations

5) involving yourself in pleasurable hobbies

How do we know if we have high cortisol? One website lists the following symptoms:

  • Rapid weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Mood swings, anxiety and depression
  • Impaired cognitive function (fuzzy brain)
  • Dampened thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Poor sleep
  • Lowered immune function
  • Slow wound healing

Alternatively, low cortisol has the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dark rings under the eyes
  • Palpitations
  • Cravings for salty food

If you have concerns about your cortisol levels, consult your doctor for a blood test and potential solutions.

Shiraz Abbas is the founder and manager of the CIDP Neuropathy Support Group. He is also one of the main community educators of IVIG therapy. He resides in Fresno, California. Shiraz can be contacted through our free CIDP advice service at 1-855-782-0574.

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