What are common causes of elevated DHEA levels?

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone, released by the adrenal gland, used in the manufacture of androgens, estrogens, and other hormones in both men and women. Common causes of elevated DHEA levels include stress, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hyperinsulinemia, and androgen-secreting tumors (AST). People who choose to take DHEA supplements may also increase their DHEA levels above the normal range. While this hormone has certain benefits, there are also negative side effects of elevated DHEA levels, including heart palpitations, weight gain, and hair loss. People who think their DHEA levels may be high should see a doctor for testing and any necessary treatment.

The purpose of DHEA is to serve as a precursor to many different hormones. DHEA is used in the manufacture of hormones estrogen, testosterone, and adrenaline, among others. Normally, natural levels of DHEA decline after a person reaches 30 years of age.

One factor that can cause DHEA levels to remain high is stress. Research indicates that people who are under high amounts of stress may experience elevated levels of DHEA. During this study, researchers believed that the role of DHEA was to help people cope with and reduce the effects of stress.

PCOS is another common cause of elevated DHEA levels in women. This condition is most common in women of childbearing age, but it can also affect much younger women. While not all women with PCOS will produce excessive amounts of DHEA, high levels are present in a significant percentage of victims. Hyperinsulinemia, which is frequently associated with PCOS, is also believed to be the cause of the increased production of DHEA. While the link between these conditions is uncertain, some experts believe hyperinsulinemia could be an underlying cause of both PCOS and high DHEA in some women.

Androgen-secreting tumors can also cause elevated DHEA levels in patients. In women, these tumors often develop in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Men can also develop tumors on their adrenal glands. The formation of these tumors can increase the secretion of certain hormones, including DHEA.

In some cases, men and women can deliberately increase the amount of DHEA in their bodies by taking supplements. Studies have found that using DHEA for men could improve erectile dysfunction. Using DHEA for women could be effective in improving vaginal atrophy. In both sexes, the use of DHEA could improve mood, inhibit aging, and treat certain conditions such as osteoporosis, lupus, adrenal insufficiency, and obesity. Low levels of DHEA have also been linked to HIV, type 2 diabetes, and anorexia.

People who think they may have elevated DHEA levels should see their doctor. There are two types of DHEA tests that are generally used to assess patients' hormone levels: blood tests and saliva tests. After testing DHEA levels, a doctor will evaluate the results and determine if treatment is required. If necessary, the doctor may treat the cause of the imbalance or prescribe medication to lower the patient's DHEA levels.

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