Researchers develop kit that lets anyone test stress levels at home

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Stress isn’t a fleeting emotion for many, but rather a persistent reality with a very real impact on one’s physical and mental health. When left unchecked, high levels of the stress can lead to long-term health issues, including obesity and high blood pressure. In the future, a new study reveals, determining whether your body is in a stressed state may be as simple as swabbing the inside of your cheek.

Stress, which can have a huge number of causes, results in physiological changes that may have a negative impact on one’s immediate and long-term health. Chronic stress has been linked to a large number of health problems, including sleep disruption that itself leads to other problems. Determining whether your body is in a stressed state isn’t simple, however.

Researchers with the University of Cincinnati have developed a potential future at-home solution for determining whether a visit to the doctor is in order. According to a study published in American Chemical Society Sensors, a new test involving a test strip and UV light can measure stress biomarkers in saliva, urine, blood, and sweat.

The kit measures multiple biomarkers associated with stress, and though it isn’t intended to replace laboratory tests, it could potentially be a way for someone to quickly determine whether getting those tests is necessary. Enabling someone to test for these biomarkers at home may alert them to a potential health issue before it progresses into a worse state.

University of Cincinnati electrical engineering professor and one of the researchers on the project, Andrew Steckl, said: “I wanted something that’s simple and easy to interpret … This may not give you all the information, but it tells you whether you need a professional who can take over.” It’s possible a commercial version of the kit could be brought to market in the future.

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