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 Blood Test: Dehydroepiandrosterone-Sulfate (DHEA-S)

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PostSubject: Blood Test: Dehydroepiandrosterone-Sulfate (DHEA-S)   Sun May 22, 2011 2:27 pm

Blood Test: Dehydroepiandrosterone-Sulfate (DHEA-S)





Blood Test: Dehydroepiandrosterone-Sulfate (DHEA-S)
What It Is



Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S) is a steroid hormone produced
mainly by the adrenal cortex, the outer part of the two adrenal glands
that are located just above the kidneys. Though it's an androgen (a
male-type sex hormone), it's produced by both males and females.

DHEA-S serves as a building block for making the male sex hormone
testosterone and the female sex hormone estrogen. A DHEA-S test measures
the amount of the hormone in the bloodstream.

DHEA-S levels are high in newborn babies, then quickly drop. They
rise again during puberty, when they play an important role in
triggering the development of pubic and underarm hair.

Why It's Done



Doctors may order a DHEA-S test when they want to check the
functioning of the adrenal glands, as in the case of a child who shows
signs of DHEA-S overproduction. For both boys and girls, this may mean
the appearance of puberty-related characteristics earlier than expected
(precocious puberty), particularly the early appearance of pubic or
underarm hair.

Significant overproduction or DHEA-S in a girl may result in the
development of masculine characteristics such as facial hair, deeper
voice, acne, increased muscle mass, and irregular or absence of
menstrual periods. An excess of DHEA-S may be caused by congenital
adrenal hyperplasia (a condition present from birth in which the adrenal
glands make too much androgen and not enough of other steroid hormones)
or some other adrenal problems. Low levels of DHEA-S may be present if
the adrenal glands are damaged or diseased.

The test may also be used, with other hormone tests, to rule out
certain diseases of the testes or ovaries because DHEA-S is also
produced (normally in small amounts) by these organs. The test can also
help diagnose damage or disease of the pituitary gland because adrenal
production of DHEA-S is ultimately controlled by pituitary hormones.

Preparation



No special preparations are needed for this test. In adolescent
girls, doctors may request that the test be performed either before or
after a menstrual period, as menstruation may affect hormone levels.

On the day of the test, it may help to have your child wear a
short-sleeve shirt to allow easier access for the technician who will be
drawing the blood.The Procedure



A health professional will draw the blood from a vein after cleaning
the skin surface with antiseptic and placing an elastic band
(tourniquet) around the upper arm to apply pressure and cause the veins
to swell with blood. A needle is inserted into a vein (usually in the
arm inside of the elbow or on the back of the hand) and blood is
withdrawn and collected in a vial or syringe.

After the procedure, the elastic band is removed. Once the blood has
been collected, the needle is removed and the area is covered with
cotton or a bandage to stop the bleeding. Collecting the blood for the
test will only take a few minutes.

What to Expect



Collecting a blood sample is only temporarily uncomfortable and can
feel like a quick pinprick. Afterward, there may be some mild bruising,
which should go away in a day or so.

Getting the Results



The blood sample will be processed by a machine. The results are commonly available within a few days.

Risks



The DHEA-S test is considered a safe procedure. However, as with many
medical tests, some problems can occur with having blood drawn, such
as:


  • fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin causing a lump or bruise)
  • pain associated with multiple punctures to locate a vein


Helping Your Child



Having a blood test is relatively painless. Still, many kids are
afraid of needles. Explaining the test in terms your child might
understand can help ease some of the fear.

Allow your child to ask the technician any questions he or she might
have. Tell your child to try to relax and stay still during the
procedure, as tensing muscles and moving can make it harder and more
painful to draw blood. It also may help if your child looks away when
the needle is being inserted into the skin.

If You Have Questions



If you have questions about the DHEA-S test, speak with your doctor. You can also talk to the technician before the procedure.

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Blood Test: Dehydroepiandrosterone-Sulfate (DHEA-S)

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