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Nutrición Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 1699-5198Print version ISSN 0212-1611


AGUILAR CORDERO, M. J. et al. Salivary cortisol as an indicator of physiological stress in children and adults: a systematic review. Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2014, vol.29, n.5, pp.960-968. ISSN 1699-5198.

Salivary cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and secreted into saliva when persons are under stress. High levels of cortisol in saliva can be produced by many different factors, including obesity and certain psychological disorders. The articles selected for inclusion in this review were identified using Google Scholar and Medline, and this search obtained a total of 57 items. The validity of these studies was established according to the degree of evidence presented, by citations and by their applicability to the healthcare context in Spain. Specifically, this review takes into consideration studies of salivary cortisol and stress in children and adults, and those examining the relation between high levels of salivary cortisol and other disorders such as anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, social phobia or emotional deprivation. These studies show that salivary cortisol is a clear indicator of stress in both children and adults. High levels of this hormone in saliva are associated with the following main consequences: reduced immune function, affecting healing and thus prolonging recovery time; delayed growth in children; increased blood pressure and heart rate in both children and adults.

Keywords : Cortisol; Saliva; Stress; Physiological stress.

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